A hacktivist group calling themselves the “Darkside Hackers” reportedly donated at least $10,000 in stolen money to two different charities. The donations were made anonymously, but the services used by the hackers are attempting to trace the transactions and return the money to its rightful owners.
It has not yet been proven if their claims are true, but the Darkside Hackers claim that they have extorted millions of dollars from companies in ransomware attacks, and they say that they are now using some of that money to “make the world a better place.” Investigators using blockchain analysis seem to think that the group’s claims are true, and that they could be behind high-profile attacks on companies including Travelex.
In a post made on the dark web, accounts claiming to represent the Darkside Hackers posted receipts for $10,000 in Bitcoin donations that went to two charities, Children International and The Water Project. According to the receipts, the donors also received a tax credit for their donations, but in this case, if the hackers attempted to write these donations off as credits on tax day they would end up exposing themselves in the process, and this is something that they are probably aware of. Authorities have raised concerns about criminals using blockchain charity services to launder money, but plenty of money laundering is done through charities regardless of the technology or financial services employed.
Children International has responded to the controversy by saying that it will not be keeping the money if it is stolen. The Water Project has not yet commented on the donation, but if it is determined that the funds were stolen, the platform that facilitated the donations will likely be returning the money anyway.
The donations were made through a platform called the Giving Block, which is the primary source for charities to legitimately receive cryptocurrency donations online. The Giving Block is used by 67 different non-profits from around the world including Save The Children, Rainforest Foundation and She’s The First.
According to a dark web blog post, the hackers claim that they attack megacorporations with ransomware attacks that freeze a company’s entire system until the ransom is paid.
“We think that it’s fair that some of the money the companies have paid will go to charity. No matter how bad you think our work is, we are pleased to know that we helped changed someone’s life. Today we sended (sic) the first donations,” the blog post read, according to BBC.
In a statement to the BBC, The Giving Block said that it would return the funds to their rightful owners if it is determined that they were indeed stolen.
“We are still working to determine if these funds were actually stolen. If it turns out these donations were made using stolen funds, we will of course begin the work of returning them to the rightful owner,” the statement read.
Establishment sources are pretending to be confused about why cybercriminals would steal something only to give it away, while the group’s statements make it very obvious that they are on a sort of Robin Hood quest to take from the rich and give to the poor. It is a way of taking direct action to address the inequality that they see in the world and punish the corporate class that they perceive as criminal and above the law.