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Top 5 crypto blunders that paid millions of dollars to unknown accounts

·6-min read
Crypto.com paid actor Matt Damon millions of dollars to feature in its adverts
Crypto.com paid actor Matt Damon millions of dollars to feature in its adverts. Maybe they should have asked him to help track down their missing coins instead? Photo: Yara Nardi/Reuters

Cryptocurrency trading platform Crypto.com (CRO-USD) mistakenly sent $10.5m (£9m) to an Australian woman instead of paying out a $100 refund.

But it's not the only major crypto-firm to have made blunders.

Below are the top five crypto blunders that resulted in millions of dollars being paid into the wrong accounts.

1. Crypto.com sends over $10m to the wrong person

May 6, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Red Bull driver Sergio Perez of Mexico races into turn 1 through the circuit during qualifying for the Miami Grand Prix at Miami International Autodrome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Crypto.com spends millions on advertising — and a tidy sum on lawyers to recoup money it accidentally sent to the wrong account. Photo: John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports

Crypto.com accidentally transferred $10.5m to an Australian woman when processing a $100 refund.

The company that paid millions to Hollywood star Matt Damon for a Super Bowl commercial then failed to notice their error for seven months.

Thevamanogari Manivel was sent $10.5m in December 2021, after her bank account number was accidentally entered into the payment amount field.

Crypto.com went after the money through the courts and launched legal action in the Victorian supreme court this year.

Read more: Crypto live prices

The company was granted a freeze on Manivel's bank account in February but she had already sent most of the funds to other bank accounts. These were then frozen by authorities.

The court in the Australian province of Victoria heard that $1.35m of the $10.5m that was mistakenly sent was used to buy a four-bedroom home in Melbourne, which was later transferred into the name of Manivel's sister, who lives in Malaysia.

The court's judgement favoured Crypto.com and Manivel's sister is being forced to sell the property as soon as possible.

2. BlockFi bitcoin blunder after lender accidentally sent users millions in BTC

Blockfi logo.
Blockfi logo. Photo illustration: Chukrut Budrul/SOPA/LightRocket/Getty

From 18 to 31 March, BlockFi, a crypto lending platform, ran a competition for users which would see them earn a bonus on the crypto that they had traded, with the bonuses reaching users b 31 May.

On 17 May, the company accidentally sent out hundreds of bitcoin (BTC-USD) that they did not own to nearly 100 users, shelling out millions of dollars in the process.

The exact number of misplaced bitcoin is not known. But Zac Prince, BlockFi's CEO, tweeted that it was "a couple of hundred."

To put this in perspective, if BlockFi sent 300 Bitcoin that would be $11.4m at the current price.

Fortunately for BlockFi, they had $15bn in assets under management as of the first quarter of 2021, which meant that a catastrophe like this did not lead to bankruptcy.

Moreover, emails threatening legal action were issued to some users who withdrew the bitcoin they had acquired, although some argued they did not know what had happened.

They also issued a $500 reward for anyone who returned the bitcoin that was sent in error.

3. Crypto lender Compound mistakenly sent $90m to users because of system bug

Digital generated image of bitcoin sign  over glowing digital circuit board.
A bug in the system caused Compound, a popular cryptocurrency lending platform, to accidentally send approximately $89m worth of crypto tokens to some users. Photo: Getty

In September 2021, Compound, a popular cryptocurrency lending platform, accidentally sent approximately $89m worth of crypto tokens to some users.

The issue occurred due to a bug in the system when the platform was putting out a routine update to the code which governs users' transactions.

After the error, Compound founder Robert Leshner tried various ways to get the tokens back including urging users to return them on Twitter (TWTR).

He initially said that users could keep 10% of the funds as a bonus however this quickly turned into threats of doxxing those individuals who did not return the money.

Doxxing is when someone publicly reveals information that is considered private, such as a person's name and address. This is seen as extremely problematic for crypto users who often want to remain anonymous.

Leshner later apologised for this tweet describing it as "bone-headed".

4. Copytrack sends approximately $380,000 in ethereum in payment blunder

A representation of cryptocurrency Ethereum is seen in this illustration taken August 6, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Ethereum. Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Tech start-up Copytrack conducted an initial coin offering (ICO) in the middle of the crypto-boom in 2018.

An ICO allows crypto companies to raise funds from public investors with scant regulation and red tape. It is a good way for a crypto-enterprise to get gain rapid investment with limited accountability, in a space that is lightly regulated.

Eager investors sent ethereum (ETH-USD) or other currencies to Copytrack, in exchange for their new cryptocurrency called CPY.

In one case, Copytrack was supposed to send 530 CPY tokens back to someone in exchange for an equivalent value in ethereum or bitcoin.

But, in February 2018, instead of depositing CPY Tokens, the company sent the investor 530ETH.

The value of the CPY tokens at the time was approximately $600, whereas the value of the ETH that was sent to the investor was approximately $380,000.

Copytrack sought court action to retrieve the funds, and a judge determined that the company was entitled to “trace and recover" the 530 ether received by the defendant.

The ether was never returned to Copytrack and the defendant reportedly passed away the day before the court hearing.

Copytrack launched its token on the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC-20 token, and at launch, the CPY tokens were valued at $1.20.

Read more: Can ethereum merge make ether the next bitcoin?

However, the token collapsed in value and within one year was trading for approximately $0.02 — a 98% drop from the ICO.

The company practices “post-licensing”, where they find copies of images online and send copyright claims, and now seems to have abandoned their crypto-token, to the dismay of early investors.

5. Bitcoin early adopter accidentally sent $520,000 in BTC to the wrong wallet

In 2014 a bitcoin whale accidentally sent 800 bitcoin to an unknown address.

The individual went to Reddit for advice and pleaded, "if you just received 800 Bitcoin out of the blue, it was from me".

Luckily, another Redditor came to the rescue in identifying the wallet recipient, which belonged, as it turned out, to the defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox.

The person then later posted an update on Reddit saying they tried to get a hold of Mt. Gox administrators to return the bitcoins.

Mitigating risk

Due to the irreversible nature of cryptocurrency blockchains, transactions cannot be cancelled or reversed once they have been set in motion.

If funds are sent to the wrong address the only solution for companies and individuals is to contact the receiving party and ask for their cooperation in returning the funds.

Failing that, legal action can be initiated, but this can become a lengthy process involving multiple jurisdictions.

So, for cryptocurrency firms and individual retail investors alike, it is essential to exercise caution when sending crypto.

One simple risk management technique is to make a habit of sending a small amount of crypto first, then checking the receiving address, and if it is the correct address then send the rest of the amount.

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