February 13, 2018 at
BitGrail, the relatively obscure cryptocurrency exchange platform based in Italy, recently claimed that they lost $195 million worth of users’ cryptocurrency after falling victim to hackers. However, there are several experts and developers who have pointed out that this claims could be fraudulent.
The Italian crypto exchange is definitely one of the lesser known platforms. BitGrail is also one of the few platforms to have support for an equally obscure cryptocurrency, Nano, previously called RaiBlocks. Last week Francesco Firano, the founder of BitGrail claimed that the exchange lost 17 million Nano tokens due to hackers targeting the platform. At the time of writing, 17 million Nano tokens equal $195 million.
However, not everyone in the crypto community has been pacified by this claim. In addition, there are certain recent decisions made by BitGrail which some deem downright incriminating. For example, at the start of the year, the exchange temporarily suspended all deposits and withdrawals of Nano as well as CryptoForecast and Lisk. Shortly after this temporary suspension, the platform announced that they would start implementing additional anti-money laundering and identity verification measures to its site which could perhaps end up blocking users that are not based in Europe. The cryptocurrency news outlet, The Merkle, published an article at the time that this announcement aroused widespread suspicion among BitGrail users, and many considered this to be an exit scam. Shortly after this announcement, the Nano price declined with 20%.
The plot seems to have thickened after the latest alleged hack. Shortly after the hack, Firano reached out to the developers behind Nano to ask them to develop a fork in order to restore the stolen funds. However, this request in itself violates the very nature of cryptocurrency as it requires the developing team to manipulate records. Not only is this impossible, but violates one of the cryptocurrency’s core features which is the transactions records’ immutability which many consider being sacrosanct.
The Nano team rejected this request and made a copy of their communication with Firano publicly available. In addition, the team stated that this communication has led the team to believe that Firano has been dishonest about BitGrail’s solvency for an extended period of time. This announcement suggests that Firano has staged a hack to hide customer funds mismanagement.
However, the team could not provide any more substantial evidence to support this claim. In addition, some have pointed out that the Nano team has the motive to make this accusation if they had reason to hide any security flaws in their own programming. According to Firano, he has filed a report with the local law enforcement authorities and that he has received death threats ever since he confirmed the hack. BitGrail users have been circulating pictures of the 31-year-old founder via social media platforms accompanied by explicit and implicit threats.