A BBC journalist is sharing his story on how he lost $30,000 in Ethereum (ETH) in an effort to try and educate crypto newbies.
Business reporter Monty Munford says he decided to buy the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap in mid-2017.
“I chose it not for any other reason than it was second to Bitcoin by valuation and looked like it could emulate that 100,000% rise. So in the middle of 2017, I made some investments, figuring that it was a long-term plan and might even become a nest egg for a pension.”
Munford says the experience was “utterly terrifying” and after buying his Ethereum, he read about the frequency of crypto exchange hacks and decided to move his crypto to a wallet for safekeeping.
He chose MyEtherWallet and obtained the private key to his holdings – the string of letters and numbers he needed to access his crypto.
But then came the crucial mistake. Munford says he wrote the private key on a piece of paper and stored it in his Gmail drafts folder, so that he could access his crypto with ease. When the price of Ethereum shot up in late 2017, he decided to check his holdings, only to discover that all of his crypto had been moved to another address.
Munford contacted the US-based blockchain forensics company CipherBlade, and sent the results to Binance.
“The following morning I was contacted by Sussex’s cybercrime unit, my local force, and within a week they had received useful information from Binance. The unit tracked IP addresses to a telecoms company in the Netherlands, but there weren’t any personal identification details to be had – perhaps unsurprisingly.
The investigations continue, and my money remains stolen.”
Crypto thieves likely used a phishing scam to access Munford’s email or used malware to gain access to his computer, monitor his keystrokes and copy/paste his activities. Either way, Munford says he’s telling his story to let others know how careful they need to be with their private keys.
“So I’m left with my fingers burned, feeling like I wandered into a savage bazaar where criminals can pick your pocket at will. And get away with it. Please learn from my mistakes.”