Bitcoins stolen after cryptocurrency site NiceHash hacked

Bitcoin surges past $15000 despite news of $60m heist

Bitcoin surges past $15000 despite news of $60m heist

The admission comes just hours after NiceHash first said its site was down for maintenance, and later that its team was "working hard to resolve the issues".

Research company Coindesk said that a wallet address referred to by NiceHash users indicates that about 4,700 bitcoins had been stolen.

Cryptocurrencies are virtual "coins" that are "mined" by computers using complex algorithms. That could involve significant sums: it paid out millions of dollars in bitcoin every week, according to its official Facebook page.

Former Fortress hedge fund manager Michael Novogratz had said on Monday that bitcoin can multiply more than four times in roughly the next 13 months. At Thursday's record price of about US$15,000, that puts the value at over $70 million.

"While the full scope of what happened is not yet known, we recommend, as a precaution, that you change your online passwords", the site told users.

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"In addition to undertaking our own investigation, the incident has been reported to the relevant authorities and law enforcement and we are cooperating with them as a matter of urgency", it said.

There was no immediate response from NiceHash to an emailed request for more details. Just last week the bitcoin prices had touched $ 11,000 to hit a record high for the sixth day in a row after gaining more than $1,000 in just 12 hours.

The year before, cyber thieves made off with about 19,000 bitcoins after breaking into European exchange Bitstamp.

The hack will put a spotlight on the security of bitcoin just as the trading community prepares for the currency to start trading on two established US exchanges.

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