Bitcoin donations given to charities – illegally

Cybercrime, and ransomware, in particular, impacts charities in a number of ways; hackers are donating funds to charities, stolen from companies across the globe.

Cybercrime group Darkside says it “wants to make the world a better place” and has donated 0.88 bitcoin – worth $10,000 – to Children International and The Water Project. The Water Project and Children International support children, families and communities in India, the Philippines, Colombia, Ecuador, Zambia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the United States.

The donations came, the group wrote on in a “press release” on its darknet website, because “no matter how bad you think our work is, we are pleased to know that we helped change someone’s life”. One of the recipients, children International, said it would not accept the funds.

Darkside, makes ransomware, software that encrypts computers, rendering them inoperable unless the encryption key is bought – often for huge sums of money, says they only target large profitable companies with their ransomware attacks.

The cyber-criminals posted the donation along with tax receipts they received in exchange for the 0.88 Bitcoin they had sent to two charities. Brokered by The Giving Block, which helps charities receive donations in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, ether and zcash, the donations were received by the charities involved before Darkside publicised its gifting.

A Children International spokesperson said: “If the donation is linked to a hacker, we have no intention of keeping it”.

While Darkside is a relatively new hacking group, it may have links to other cyber-criminal groups responsible for high-profile attacks on companies such as Travelex who were attacked earlier this year.

Giving Block was told that the money was sent “through a mixer”, a form of automatic money laundering that obscures the true sender of bitcoin from the recipient, “so don’t try to get it back anywhere”. Whilst accepting funds from illegal sources is not allowed, giving the money back may prove difficult as Darkside has threatened to make further donations anonymously.

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