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Japanese Crypto Exchange Liquid Hit by Estimated 94M Hack

* “Warm” online wallets targeted

* Latest exchange to be hit by hackers

LONDON, Aug 19 (Reuters) – Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Liquid said on Thursday it was hit by hackers in a theft estimated at more than $94 million, the latest crypto platform to be targeted by cyber-criminals.

“We are sorry to announce that #LiquidGlobal warm wallets were compromised, we are moving assets into the cold wallet,” it said on Twitter, adding that deposits and withdrawals were suspended.

Liquid later said it was tracing the movement of the assets and working with other exchanges to freeze and recover funds.

“Warm” or “hot” digital wallets are usually based online and designed to allow users to access cryptocurrencies more easily. “Cold” wallets are offline and harder to access – and therefore typically more secure.

London-based blockchain analysis firm Elliptic said digital addresses identified by Liquid as belonging to the thief had received over $94 million in digital coins, including around $31 million in ether, $5 million in bitcoin and $13 million in XRP.

Some $45 million in tokens connected to the Ethereum blockchain were also stolen, Elliptic said.

The hacker or hackers is converting some of these tokens to the ether cryptocurrency via so-called decentralised – peer-to-peer – exchanges, it added.

Elliptic said it was aiding Liquid in tracking the stolen funds.

Liquid’s CEO did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Crypto platform Poly Network was at the centre of a $610 million crypto theft last week, one of the biggest ever. Within days of the heist, the decentralised finance platform said the “white hat” hacker or hackers had returned nearly all the loot.

Liquid is the latest exchange in Japan to be hit by a major heist.

Tokyo-based exchange Mt.Gox collapsed in 2014 after it lost half a billion dollars in hacks. Coincheck, also based in Tokyo, was hit by a $530 million heist in 2018.

Founded in 2014, Liquid says it serves millions of customers across the world. It operates in over 100 countries, it said.

Reporting by Tom Wilson; editing by Kim Coghill and Jason Neely