Ian Balina, a cryptocurrency investor and advisor, was reportedly hacked for more than $2 mln in crypto while doing a live stream on his YouTube channel Sunday, April 15, that he advertised as “Hacking the System.”
Watching the live stream of Balina’s Initial Coin Offering (ICO) review, viewers can see the point where Balina was unexpectedly logged out of his Google Spreadsheets, which is most likely the moment when the hack would have taken place:
After the live stream ended earlier than planned, Balina then posted the following tweet:
Crypto Family, I need you now more than ever. I ended today's live stream b/c I am being hacked. I'm not worried about the money. I learned my lesson. I only care about catching the hacker. Please email any information to email@example.com. Thank you all the support. $ETH $BTC— Ian Balina (@DiaryofaMadeMan) April 16, 2018
This plea to the crypto community was followed by a second tweet, almost immediately deleted, that stated that his missing coins were about to be sold on crypto exchange KuCoin:
“Hacker has stolen my funds and is about to sell on @kucoincom.Please help in contacting them. $ETH $BTC $KCS”
The quick deletion of this second tweet instantly got the Twitter and Reddit community interested in the reported hack, with many users on both platforms suggesting that Balina’s account of the hack is an elaborate maneuver to avoid paying taxes to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Crypto person WhalePanda was one of the first to point out the irony of the choice of words for promoting the YouTube live stream, which could imply either innocence or an incredibly wry sense of humor:
Too... much... irony... "Hacking the system" and then 1 hour later "hacked" (or evading taxes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) pic.twitter.com/CBDnRUK3dZ— WhalePanda (@WhalePanda) April 16, 2018
Reddit user shanecorry commented that Balina’s tweet about KuCoin was posted when no coins had been moved to KuCoin from the alleged hackers’ wallets:
“The really strange thing is, at that time no funds had been moved to Kucoin from the wallets identified as the hackers yet within minutes of that tweet having been posted/deleted, suddenly some funds were being moved to a Kucoin wallet.
I was more of the opinion before that happened that he was just being stupid, holding millions of $ in crypto with poor security but this points more towards the more dodgy behaviour that others have suggested.”
Twitter user James White commented on Balina’s original tweet about the hack:
Another Reddit user, Hidden_Troll, questioned why moving the funds and faking a hack would get Balina “off the hook for taxes,” while user bbRPSeddit explained that since Balina bought the coins “cheap” and never sold, he owes less taxes in 2017 than “he would in 2018 selling everything.”
The coming tax day in the US - tomorrow, April 17 - may have caused the market slump since the new year, as Americans could have been selling off their crypto holdings to pay an estimated $25 bln in capital gains tax due to crypto holdings, said Fundstrat’s Tom Lee.
An earlier tweet by WhalePanda contains an explanation, allegedly by Balina, as to how the hackers got into his MyEtherWallet:
The aftermath of the reported hack has led to posters on Reddit warning about the lack of security of storing your private keys in a place accessible to hackers, listing the “best practices” for keeping yourself hack-free.
As one post on the subreddit /r/CryptoCurrency reportedly lists Balina’s three Ethereum (ETH) wallet addresses, as well as the three addresses of the alleged hackers, one can see that his wallets have indeed had their coins transferred to these other addresses. The transactions, which contain a variety of altcoins, are now labelled IanBal_Hack from 1 to 4.
Balina had not responded to a request for comment by press time.