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The Largest Bitcoin Exchange Was Possibly the Target of a $350 Million Theft

Frank Jordans/AP

Mt. Gox, the world's largest Bitcoin trading site, has gone offline as rumors that more than 744,000 bitcoins were stolen from the service during an infiltration that went unnoticed by the service for years. As of Monday, the estimated losses are said to be worth at least $350 million.

According to a leaked document, which has not been verified but is circulating widely among Bitcoin proponents, a bug in the bitcoin wallet software allowed hackers to steal the digital currency, even from offline "cold storage." The 744,000 stolen bitcoins total about 6 percent of the 12.4 million currently in circulation, and about 3.5 percent of the eventual 21 million.

Bitcoin values on Mt. Gox have dropped 40 percent in the past 24 hours, and prices on Bitstamp, the most prominent exchange filling the void left by Gox, is boasting prices $100 higher on its exchange.

From part of the leaked document:

The likely damage in public perception to this class of technology could put it back 5~10 years, and cause governments to react swiftly and harshly. At the risk of appearing hyperbolic, this could be the end of Bitcoin, at least for most of the public.

Read more at The Wire

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