The Iceland Bitcoin heist blockchain is a public ledger that records bitcoin transactions. It is implemented as purine chain of blocks, each block containing A hash of the previous block up to the genesis hide of the chain. metric linear unit intercommunicate of communicating nodes running bitcoin code maintains the blockchain– Mar 03, · Some 11 people were arrested, including a security guard, in what Icelandic media have dubbed the "Big Bitcoin Heist." A judge at the Reykjanes District Court on . Dec 03, · It’s known as the ‘Big Bitcoin Heist’. To cut a long story short, year-old Sindri Thor Stefansson allegedly stole about Bitcoin mining units from a warehouse near Iceland’s capital city Reykjavik. The theft was not the first of a kind. Police registered at least four related incidents between December and January
Iceland bitcoin heistIceland’s Big Bitcoin Heist | Vanity Fair
Been there, done that. Just for the record, Iceland has only five jails with a number of prisoners rarely exceeding Two of them are of an open kind, meaning the absence of security features and open cell doors.
So, Stefansson joined a small crew assembled by Mr. X and started preparing for the crime. By the police version, Stefansson himself was a mastermind of the operation. However, he insists that the group was guided by the already mentioned foreign investor Mr. They stole Bitcoin computers, along with power sources, graphics cards, and assorted supplies. Five days later, the Borealis Data Center informed police that someone had tried and failed to break into their facility at Asbru, attempting to disable the alarm by gluing the security sensors.
Next, they broke into the warehouse at the local AVK Data Center that was freshly remodeled into a mine. That meant another 28 easy-to-get computers for the team.
When the warehouse owner arrived at the site, all he saw were empty shelves. An investigation started. The police reviewed footage from a CCTV camera at a nearby hardware store, spotting a blue van. A CCTV camera at the toll booth in the Whale Fjord Tunnel also snapped a photograph that showed Stefansson behind the wheel of the same van that was suspected to be carrying the stolen goods.
However, the police had no solid proof and the suspects denied everything. Therefore, they were released from detention.
Meanwhile, Matthias Jon Karlsson, who bought a vehicle, lost his job as a daycare worker. He blamed Stefansson for his bad organization that led to their detention. The burglars threatened him and found all the critical data: the location of the security cameras, the specifics of the anti-theft systems, how security shifts were organized. Gylfason also provided the thieves with guard uniforms and the alarm code.
On the night of a robbery, January 16, , the team got lucky — the guard suddenly raced home, diverted by diarrhea, and never returned. But if the stolen equipment is used for its original purpose -- to create new bitcoins -- the thieves could turn a massive profit in an untraceable currency without ever selling the items.
Three of four burglaries took place in December and a fourth took place in January, but authorities did not make the news public earlier in hopes of tracking down the thieves. Bitcoin is a kind of digital money that isn't tied to a bank or a government.
It has been hugely volatile, posting some dizzying intra-day rises and falls over the past year or so. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rely on the blockchain, the name given to the public, distributed ledgers which track the coins' ownership.
The mine was only six days old. The lone police officer patrolling the area had gone home for the night. And a window way up high had conveniently been left open, to let the frigid air cool the red-hot computers. This being Iceland, someone had even left a ladder nearby. Stefansson asked Matthias Karlsson to buy a vehicle, and the conscientious day care worker came through with a cheap blue van, purchased on the Icelandic version of eBay.
Ten days after their first job, Stefansson and Viktor the Cutie drove to the data center, where Stefansson climbed the ladder, slipped through the open window, and landed, catlike, on the concrete floor. In their excitement, they took the fastest route: the Whale Fjord Tunnel, a 3. In court, the Cutie tried to use his love of tattoos as an alibi: A tattoo artist testified that Viktor had spent the entire night in bed with her.
What came back was… nothing. No data. Not even a connection. This would never happen in Iceland! The owner called the police, who reviewed footage from a CCTV camera at a nearby hardware store.
It clearly showed the used blue van Karlsson had bought. The police ran the plates and arrested Stefansson and Karlsson. In their gentle Icelandic style, they placed the suspects in dormitory-style cells in their hometowns, then brought them in for questioning. The walls are covered with images of the Northern Lights and the buds of Icelandic flowers poking up through the snowy tundra.
Ottensen was impressed with how nice the suspects seemed. He had no idea his information would lead to a burglary, and they used him.
Questioned by police, Stefansson and Karlsson insisted that they had absolutely nothing to do with the burglary. But the Bitcoin thieves were far from finished. While being detained in the Borgarnes investigation, Karlsson lost his job as a day care worker. Deep in debt, and with a child on the way, he blamed Stefansson. He was captured after he and his accomplices posted a photo on Instagram left.
On the day after Christmas, cell phone records show, the gang drove together to the former naval base at Asbru to try their luck at hitting the Borealis Data Center a second time. This time they tried to climb through a window. The alarm sounded, and they fled.
But the gang was learning as they went. One night in late , a man named Ivar Gylfason received a strange phone call. Not long after, Gylfason was contacted by a relative of his ex-girlfriend. The gang had presented him with a plan for repayment: Get Ivar to spill security details about the Advania mine and the interest on your debt will be forgiven. The relative offered Gylfason cash in exchange for information about the mine.
When Gylfason declined, he was escorted into a dark Mazda outside his house. He recognized one of the men in the car—Sindri Stefansson—who sat alongside a man wearing a hoodie, and another who spoke in a gruff Eastern European accent. If he did not comply, they told him, he would be hurt. Over the course of two or three moonlit meetings, Gylfason told the gang everything he knew about the Advania data center: the location of the security cameras, the specifics of the anti-theft systems, how security shifts were organized.
He also provided the thieves with guard uniforms and the alarm code. On January 16, , the job commenced. Stefansson had been tracking the routine of the security guard who would be on duty that night. But before he could make a move, the gang got a lucky break: The guard suddenly raced home, diverted by diarrhea, and never returned.
With scarves covering their faces, Karlsson and his brother drove up and started loading the computers into their car. At first, police had little to go on. The computers were gone, and there was no way to trace if they were being used to mine cryptocurrency. So he and his team turned to more old-fashioned forms of technology: Using telephone data, rental car records, bank accounts, and wiretaps, they were able to connect the gang with Ivar Gylfason, the security guard they had blackmailed.
Only two weeks after the heist, the arrests began. Gylfason, apprehended at his home, confessed to his role. That same day, police arrested Karlsson and his brother. They also descended on Stefansson, who had sold his home and was preparing to move to Spain with his wife and kids.
In a pocket of his jeans they found a crudely drawn map of the Advania data center. They also seized his iPhone, which was shipped to Holland to be unlocked.
Rental car forms showed he had rented the second car used in the Advania theft. Stefansson was thrown in solitary for a month and grilled repeatedly by police, who pressured him to reveal the location of the stolen computers. Officers from every police district in Iceland combed the island, searching for the computers.
They fanned out in squad cars, boats, and helicopters. They followed leads as far away as China. They raided a Bitcoin mine owned by a Russian couple they suspected of being the thieves.