After losing 850,000 Bitcoins worth over $470 million, MtGox sets up a telephone hotline

Graham Cluley

MtGox BitcoinMtGox, the Bitcoin exchange which dramatically shut its doors last week after it revealed hackers had stolen approximately $477 million worth of the digital currency, has sprung into action to protect its customers.

Yes, you needn’t worry any more about your Bitcoins having been stolen from your digital wallets, because MtGox has opened a telephone hotline. In Japan.

Here’s part of the latest statement posted on MtGox’s website:

Mt. Gox statement

At the start of February 2014, illegal access through the abuse of a bug in the bitcoin system resulted in an increase in incomplete bitcoin transfer transactions and we discovered that there was a possibility that bitcoins had been illicitly moved through the abuse of this bug.

As a result of our internal investigation, we found that a large amount of bitcoins had disappeared. Although the complete extent is not yet known, we found that approximately 750,000 bitcoins deposited by users and approximately 100,000 bitcoins belonging to us had disappeared.

We believe that there is a high probability that these bitcoins were stolen as a result of an abuse of this bug and we have asked an expert to look at the possibility of a criminal complaint and undertake proper procedures.

On the same day (24th), we found out large discrepancies between the amount of cash held in financial institutions and the amount deposited from our users. The amounts are still under investigation and may vary but they approximate JPY 2.8 billion.

We are investigating the causes of these problems. Since there are probably a variety of causes including hacking by third parties, we need to investigate a huge amount of transaction reports in order to establish the truth. As of this date, we cannot confirm the exact amount of missing deposit funds and the total amount of bitcoins which disappeared.

Once we discovered that bitcoins had disappeared and the discrepancies between cash funds and deposit balances, we judged that it would be difficult to continue our activities normally and we therefore closed our site at noon on the 25th (Japan time).

MtGox, you will remember, stopped its customers from withdrawing Bitcoins in early February citing temporary technical issues. However, it has since emerged that the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange was suffering from much more serious problems.

Perhaps surprisingly, although MtGox has taken an understandable tumble, the average Bitcoin exchange rate appears not to have been as dramatically affected by this latest wound to the digital currency’s reputation.

Bitcoin price index

Clearly it’s no laughing matter if you had invested heavily in Bitcoins, and had placed your trust in MtGox, as you might find it extremely difficult to recover your funds.

Here’s the hotline number should you wish to make any inquiries of MtGox:

+81 3-4588-3921
Working hours Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm (Japan time)

Good luck getting through to them on that number. The Register reports that they haven’t had much luck getting anyone in Japan to answer the phone.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

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