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A Blackmail? A Third Abnormal Ethereum Transaction Took Place with 2,310 ETH Fee

In the past two days, two unusual ETH transactions have grabbed the crypto community’s attention.

A mysterious Ethereum user on June 10 paid a hefty 10,668 ETH (over $2.6 million) in transaction fees with the transfer value at only 0.55 ETH.

In less than 24 hours, another transaction originating from the same wallet took place. The same sender sent 350 ETH. Again, it was an abnormal transaction with a whopping fee of 10,668 ETH. That means, a total $5.2 million+ worth of ETH has flown out from the wallet starting with 0xcdd6a2b.

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It soon triggered heated discussions among the community. Some implied that it was an apparent mistake of merely swapping the “value” and “transaction fee” fields in the API call.

Such accidents on this scale have happened before. Early in 2016, the bitcoin network saw a 291.2409 BTC fee for a 0.0001 BTC transaction due to a user error; In February 2019, China-based Ethereum mining pool SparkPool, received 2,100 ETH reward for a transaction of 0.1 ETH.

Being the “lucky dog”, Sparkpool found itself in such a situation again, this time, it is much more with 10,668 ETH. The pool said that it “has the experience of handling similar issues properly” and has frozen that hefty transaction fees associated with the mysterious transaction.

While if the problem with the first transaction was indeed a human error, the second one might invalidate this speculation, as 350 ETH is too high for a 10,668 ETH transaction in the case of “value” and “transaction fee” mistake.

There’re then some other speculations going that it was likely a result of a buggy bot, or an attempt at money laundering. While the latter is unlikely because the sender has no idea who will mine his transaction and transaction fees will finally go to miners, unless all miners have been bribed to work together with the sender.

Although it remains unclear who owns the wallet in question, China-based blockchain security firm PeckShield suggested that it might be a hot wallet owned by some crypto exchange, as there’re a large number of flow in and out related to the wallet and many small balances upstream addresses are emptied out after interacting with this address.

Based on their preliminary analysis, PeckShield provides another speculation – it might be a GasPrice blackmail targeting the crypto exchange.

The firm explains that hackers might have attacked the crypto exchange in ways such as phishing and obtained some permissions like server management, while the possibility of multi-sig verification of the exchange’s private key might stop the hacker from having full control to transfer crypto-assets to his account, but he could transfer cryptos to whitelist addresses entitled by the exchange.

“In such a context, the hacker found he could get nothing, but decided to squander it away and made the two aforementioned transfers. The foul play may also serve as a warning that if the exchange does not pay him a ransom in some other way, he will keep on sending the ether from the wallet (which still has 21,000 ETH left).”

When everyone is trying to figure out what is going on, the Ethereum network just saw a third abnormal transaction with a fee of 2,310 ETH ($540,000).

Though it is not sent from the same address of the first two high-fee transactions, the serial suspicious Ethereum transactions have drawn enough attention from the crypto community and have not stopped observers from speculating.

As of press time, no one has reached out to the three mining pools – SparkPool, Ethermine and F2Pool – which have received the hefty fees associated with the three abnormal transactions. Miners of the three pools are now eager to get their share if no one claims it. Last year, SparkPool returned half of the mistakenly sent 2,100 ETH to the sender and reward the remaining half to pool miners.

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