A couple of days ago it was reported that the 38-year-old Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik, co-owner of one of Internet’s largest digital currency exchange BTC-e was arrested in Greece on suspicion of using his platform for a large scale money laundering campaign and aiding cyber criminals in receiving money from victims of ransomware attacks.
Now, the US law enforcement authorities have moved one step further and seized the official website of BTC-e exchange leading to an outrage among unsuspecting users who might lose their investments. It must be noted that BTC-e’s .nz domain is also down and displaying CloudFlare’s “Error 522 – Connection timed out” message.
Those visiting the website right now can see a banner displaying a brief message from The Department of Justice, United States Secret Service, Office of Inspector General, Department of Treasury and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“This domain for BTC-e has been seized. Pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by the United States District Court for District of New Jersey under the authority of 18 U.S.C., § 981,1956 (a) (1) (A), and 1960 – as part of the joint law enforcement operation and action by U.S Department of Justice, Northen District of California and Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Homeland security Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S Secret Service and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General.”
Here is a full preview of the banner uploaded by the authorities:
Earlier, when Vinnie was arrested a couple of Tweets came from BTC-E’s official Twitter account acknowledging the situation. The website then went offline. However, the Tweets claimed the site would be back after maintenance but on Saturday, customers witnessed the banner and started questioning about their funds.
For now, it is unclear if they will get their funds back or feds will take over it under the US law.
BTC-e was founded in July 2011 and as of February 2015 handled around 2.5% of all Bitcoin exchange volume.
Coinbase DDoS attack
In a separate incident the San Francisco, California based digital asset exchange company Coinbase announced that it is suffering a suspected DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. As a result of these attacks, customers were facing issues in withdrawing their funds.
Coinbase experiencing a suspected DDoS attack. Our team is investigating and will keep customers updated
— Coinbase 🛡️ (@coinbase) July 28, 2017
The attacks came days after Coinbase announced from August 1st, 2017, the company will implement Hard Fork. A “fork” is a change to the software of the digital currency that creates two separate versions of the blockchain with a shared history.
Update on bitcoin withdrawals before the fork on August 1, 2017 pic.twitter.com/feiPKg1jg3
— Coinbase 🛡️ (@coinbase) July 29, 2017
It is unclear who was behind the attacks but at the time of publishing this article, Coinbase service was operating normally while BTC-e domain was displaying the banner left by the US authorities.