Crypto Exchange Employee Siphons Bitcoin, Admits to Stealing Private Keys

An ex-employee of the collapsed New Zealand-based cryptocurrency exchange Cryptopia says he stole about $177,000 in crypto from his employer.

The theft of the digital assets took place months after the exchange suffered a hack in January of 2019, an event that resulted in the loss of cryptocurrencies valued at over $17.7 million, according to a report by New Zealand’s news outlet Stuff.

The ex-employee, whose identity remains undisclosed, tells the Christchurch District Court that he obtained the private keys of the various cryptocurrency wallets held by Cryptopia and stored them in a USB flash drive.

The employee claims to have compiled private keys to thousands of wallets which held crypto assets worth over $70 million.

The theft began to unravel after an accounting firm conducted a review of wallets in a bid to help a former Cryptopia client who had mistakenly deposited Bitcoin to the defunct exchange’s wallet.

In the process, the firm discovered 13 Bitcoin had been stolen from the client.

Eventually, the former employee sent an email stating that he stole the crypto and that he would return the assets in exchange for leniency.

The Christchurch District Court has now convicted the Cryptopia ex-employee and will sentence him in October.