Key Bitcoin Exchange Basically Vanishes

Document suggests Mt. Gox, now offline, experienced major theft

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 25, 2014 7:33 AM CST | Updated Feb 25, 2014 7:56 AM CST

(Newser) – Things have gone from bad to abysmal at Mt. Gox, long the largest and most popular Bitcoin exchange: Its CEO on Sunday resigned from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation; a day later the exchange deleted all of its tweets and went offline, displaying only a blank page, as an unverified document leaked that indicated it has been the victim of a debilitating theft, reports the AP. Mt. Gox initially suspended withdrawals earlier this month after discovering a bug in the Bitcoin software that hackers could exploit. Apparently hackers had been exploiting that bug, unnoticed, for two years, ultimately stealing 744,408 Bitcoins from the exchange, Wired reports, citing a leaked "crisis strategy draft plan" said to be created by Mt. Gox but not independently confirmed as authentic.

If the document is genuine, that's a theft equivalent to about $350 million at yesterday's prices and the largest Bitcoin theft ever, representing about 6% of the 12.4 million Bitcoins in circulation, reports the New York Times. Yesterday six major exchanges issued a joint statement meant to shore up confidence in the currency, writing, "As with any new industry, there are certain bad actors that need to be weeded out, and that is what we are seeing today." CNBC reports the statement initially suggested Mt. Gox was insolvent, but that detail was later removed due to a lack of "verifiable evidence."

This April 3, 2013 file photo shows bitcoin tokens in Sandy, Utah.
This April 3, 2013 file photo shows bitcoin tokens in Sandy, Utah.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
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