Cyber thieves steal $1.7 million from Bitcoin exchange BTER

An estimated $1.7 million worth of bitcoins has been stolen after cyber criminals compromised digital wallets at a China-based Bitcoin exchange, causing the website to suspend all of its services until further notice, according to a brief statement posted online on Sunday evening.

BTER, on its website bter.com, provided a link to details of the transaction that showed 7,170 bitcoins were stolen on Saturday at 04:32 GMT. The bitcoins were worth about $1.7 million at that time, according to CoinDesk's exchange rate, though the value had dropped to about $1.67 million by Monday due to the digital cryptocurrency's fluctuating exchange rate.

"7170 BTC got stolen from our cold wallet in this transaction," BTER said in its statement, adding that it is offering a "bounty" of 720 bitcoins ($167,700 per Monday's rate) to retrieve the money. "All wallets have been shut down and withdrawals of the unaffected coins will be arranged later," the statement added.

BTER's services remained suspended on Monday evening and there was no word on when customers would be able to access their bitcoins.

Bitcoins are intended to serve as an alternative for flat money and is not controlled by any country or central bank, making it an easy way for people to do business online outside of government regulation. But the digital cryptocurrency has repeatedly suffered huge security breaches, including the loss of approximately $560 million worth of Bitcoins at the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox exchange, forcing the company to file for bankruptcy.

Just over a month ago, cyber thieves stole about $5.2 million worth of bitcoins from Britain-based exchange Bitstamp.

(Copyright 2015 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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