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Robinhood Exchange Hackers Donate Stolen Bitcoins to Charity

The Darkside hacker group, who stole millions of dollars from US-based Robinhood crypto exchange, have made a surprising move by paying some of the stolen Bitcoin forward in charity donations. 

On Thursday, October 15, a group of hackers gained access to and looted almost 2,000 Robinhood customers’ accounts. But according to a BBC media report on Oct. 20, the Darkside hackers have donated $10,000 worth of Bitcoin to two charity organizations (Children International and The Water Project).

The incident is presents moral dilemma for the charities and the validity of the donations are in a legal grey area. On their personal blog, the hackers posted tax receipts for the donations worth 0.88 BTC to the two charity organizations.

Charity Firm Says Won’t Use Dirty Money

Children international, global non-profit child sponsorship organization, has confirmed the charity will not be holding the Bitcoin donations from the hacker group. Children International offers assistance to communities, families, and children in the U.S, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Zambia, Mexico, Colombia, and the Philippians.

A staff member working at Children International said:

“If the donation is linked to a hacker, we have no intention of keeping it.”

On the other hand, The Water Project non-profit organization has not given its response with regards to the BTC donations it received. The charity organization’s role involves enhancing access to clean water in sub-Saharan Africa.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officers have raised concerns regarding the manner in which the hackers paid such donations to charities.

Brett Callow, the Threat Analyst at cyber-security company Emsisoft, stated:

“Whatever their motivations, it’s certainly a very unusual step and is, as far as I know, the first time a ransomware group has donated a portion of their profits to charity.”

The Criminals Used This Lightning Network

The Darkside hackers utilized a U.S based service identified as “the Giving Block” to send the donations. More than 67 various non-profit organizations across the globe, including ‘She’s the First’, ‘Rainforest Foundation’, and ‘Save The Children’ all use the Giving project service.

“The Giving Block” recognizes itself as the “the only non-profit specific solution for accepting crypto-currency donations.” The firm was established in 2018 to enable crypto users to offer donations to non-profits through cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin while enjoying the benefits of huge tax incentives.

 “The Giving Block” has responded by saying that it was not aware that cyber-hackers have made such donations. It stated: “We are still working to determine if these funds were actually stolen. If it turns out these donations were made using stolen funds, we will of course begin the work of returning them to the rightful owner.”

The Giving Block stated:

“The fact they used crypto will make it easier, not harder, to catch them.”

However, the crypto advocate company has no offered detailed information with regards to the identity of the donors. Most cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, demand users to submit verifications of their identities.  

BBC officials made an attempt to give a donation anonymously via “the Giving Block’s portal online platform,” but they were not asked to submit their identity verification details. 

Experts claim that the online system of the Giving Block company indicates dangers and complexity associated with anonymous donations.

BBC staff communicated with other charity organizations that accept donated funds through the Giving Block.

‘Save the Children’ said it would never knowingly accept donations given by criminals.

‘She’s the First,’ a charity organization focusing of promoting of girls’ education across the globe, stated that will not be comfortable accepting donations from anonymous, criminal individuals. 

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