A typo sent $36 million in crypto into the airwaves

One of the key selling points of blockchain is its immutability: once data has been processed, a transaction cannot be reversed. One of the most painful disadvantages of blockchain? It is immutable. When something is sold at the wrong price or money is sent to the wrong address due to human error, it is often irreversible.

This is the unfortunate place where Juno cryptocurrency developers find themselves. A community vote had ordered around 3 million Juno tokens, worth around $36 million, to be confiscated by an investor believed to have acquired the tokens maliciously. (This in itself was big crypto news.) The funds were to be sent to a wallet controlled by Juno token holders who could vote on how they would be spent.

But a developer accidentally copied and pasted the wrong wallet address, as reported by CoinDesk, resulting in $36 million worth of crypto being sent to an inaccessible address.

Andrea Di Michele, one of Juno’s founding developers, told the publication that he sent the correct wallet address to the developer responsible for the transfer, along with a hash number. Hashes connect blocks in the blockchain, and at first glance, hash numbers can look very similar to wallet addresses. The developer accidentally copied and pasted the hash number instead of the wallet address.

Di Michele did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Juno is a cryptocurrency on the Cosmos blockchain that aims to compete with Ethereum by being more scalable and efficient (means: cheaper and less harmful to the environment).

The blockchain infrastructure is mainly designed to improve decentralization, for example by allowing a network of people around the world to process payments instead of centralized institutions like banks. The disadvantage of decentralization is that no company can undo such human errors. In December, someone accidentally sold their Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT for 0.75 ether instead of 75 ether — $3,000 instead of $300,000. Such “fat finger” mistakes are not uncommon.

There are ways to return the money, but none of the solutions are easy. When a hacker exploited a smart contract and stole $50 million in ether in 2016, Ethereum developers had to “hard fork” their blockchain to recover the funds – essentially creating a replica of the existing blockchain, preserving it in every way remained identical except that the stolen funds were transferred to a recovery address. It was a controversial episode. Some in the community thought it violated cryptocurrency principles and continued to run the original blockchain at Ethereum Classic.

It seems that the Juno developers have a solution in mind. According to a proposal made to token holders, the developers have plans to reallocate the funds, although exactly how has not yet been explained. A typo sent $36 million in crypto into the airwaves

Chris Barrese

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