A hacking group going by the name Darkside has reportedly tried to donate around $20,000 in stolen bitcoin to charity.
The gang posted receipts for two $10,000 bitcoin donations to The Water Project and Children International on a dark web blog post, the BBC reported along with screenshots of the transactions.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are often used by cyber criminals to extort victims thanks to their semi-anonymous nature. Ransomware attacks, where victims’ files are encrypted and only unlocked if bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies are paid to hackers, have become a common tool of cyber criminals in recent years.
Darkside hackers, who formed their seemingly sophisticated ransomware operation over the summer, say they want to “make the world a better place” after claiming to have extorted millions of dollars from companies.
“We think that it’s fair that some of the money the companies have paid will go to charity,” an October 13 blog post read, according to the BBC. “No matter how bad you think our work is, we are pleased to know that we helped changed someone’s life.”
Children International, speaking to the BBC, said it will not be keeping the money.
“If the donation is linked to a hacker, we have no intention of keeping it,” a Children International spokesperson said.
The donations were made via bitcoin and cryptocurrency donation platform The Giving Block, which it shared in a now deleted tweet.
The give-away has baffled analysts who have struggled to understand the motivation behind the donations.
“What the criminals hope to achieve by making these donations is not at all clear,” Brett Callow, Threat Analyst at cyber-security company Emsisoft, told the BBC. “Perhaps it helps assuage their guilt? Or perhaps for egotistical reasons they want to be perceived as Robin Hood-like characters rather than conscienceless extortionists.”
It’s not the first time computer hackers have tried to put their illicit gains toward a good cause, however.
In 2016, an anonymous hacker going by the pseudonym Phineas Fisher reportedly donated 25 bitcoin, worth around $11,000 at the time and apparently stolen from a bank, to Kurdish anti-capitalists in Syria who were at the time fighting the Islamic State militant group ISIS.