Kyiv techie loses $258k in BTC in Brooklyn after iPhone repair

In the spring of last year, Igor (who prefers to remain anonymous), a techie from Kyiv, gave his iPhone for repair in Brooklyn, NYC. His old phone was marked beyond repair and he got a new phone. Igor’s old phone had a cryptocurrency wallet installed. He was very surprised to discover that his Bitcoin wallet was empty: 28 bitcoins or equivalent of $258,000 at that time. A year later, Apple support failed to be of any assistance. He shared the details of this story with AIN.UA.

Igor visited Apple Store on March 6, 2018.

As indicated in the receipt above, the device had issues connecting to Wi-Fi, so Igor was given a new smartphone (full unit swap). In mid-April, Igor noticed that iCould was acting weird on the new device.

“The contacts would disappear. It was totally weird when FAVORITES tab showed phone numbers instead of people. It is not possible to do it any other way except for adding a person and deleting them from contacts. On top of that, my old phone popped up, but I did not have enough time to locate it”, Igor explained to AIN.UA.

Igor used BITPAY app, a fork of COPAY, to keep cryptocurrency on his old device. According to him, the app is considered reasonably safe and does not keep keys on the server. He kept the recovery key in Notes protected by a strong password.

On his new device, BITPAY app began to malfunction, get slow and freeze on wallet import.

He was able to sign into the app only after reporting the issue to support and reinstalling the app. He finally signed in only to find that his balance was 0, not 28 BTC. The funds were withdrawn on April 16, 2018.

Later, Igor received a ‘thank you’ 0.5 BTC, while the rest of bitcoins were divided by 2 BTC and distributed to multiple wallets of BINANCE exchange.

It is still a mystery for Igor how this all could happen. His old device had a PIN code and FaceID, and BITPAY app had FaceID authentication in place.

“It could be possible to retrieve key/wallet details from a backup copy. This option needs further exploration. If anyone managed to unlock an active phone, it also has passwords in iCloud Keychain, and apps (Google Auth, Authy, etc.) with two-factor authentication. These safeguards are in place for bank transactions, exchange transactions, withdrawal confirmation, etc. So, does it mean that the safest way is to keep a ton of papers hidden in various safes and never use them?” he wonders.

Apple’s customer support did not reply to Igor’s inquiries or provided any information about login attempts and time online of devices in question. A year later, and still nothing has changed. New device’s iCloud still malfunctions: it does not record contacts, and when it does, it duplicates them.