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Wormhole Airdrop Mishap: Exploiter Behind $323m Ethereum Theft Accidentally Included

In a bizarre turn of events, what was meant to be a routine airdrop by the cross-chain Wormhole protocol has spiralled into chaos with the unintended inclusion of an exploiter behind a million-dollar Ethereum theft from the protocol about two years ago.

The airdrop, initiated on April 3rd, was intended to distribute the W token to eligible participants. However, the event quickly turned sour as scammers descended upon the scene, flooding official channels with phishing messages and exploiting vulnerabilities in key figures’ accounts, including Wormhole co-founder Robinson Burkey.

Hackers, likely capitalizing on compromised accounts, began disseminating malicious links, prompting swift action from security-conscious users and platforms.

The aftermath of the airdrop also saw the emergence of meme tokens inspired by the chaos, with the parody coin ‘Warmhole’ experiencing an unprecedented surge in value, much to the bewilderment of many observers.

Notably, amidst the frenzy, a glaring oversight came to light: the inclusion of addresses associated with a previous $323 million protocol hack in February 2022. A sleuth using the pseudonym “Pland” noted that the Wormhole team had “forgot to exclude the exploiter from the airdrop”, showcasing a screenshot of the hacker’s address.

In a separate tweet, NFT-focused news platform DEGEN NEWS reported that the Wormhole team had inadvertently allowed four hacker addresses associated with the 2022 exploit to qualify for the airdrop, potentially netting them 31,642 W worth just over $50,000. However, in a swift response to rectify the situation, these accounts have since been expunged from the roster of eligible recipients by the Wormhole team.

That said, following the airdrop, while the W token initially soared to a peak of $1.5 following its distribution and subsequent listing on exchanges, the excitement was short-lived as its value plummeted by a staggering 16.12%, settling at $1.12 at press time, as per CoinMarketCap data. Despite the setback, the token’s market capitalization soared past $2 billion, with its daily trading volume topping $1.7 billion, underlining the project’s resilience amidst the turmoil.

The timing of this mishap is particularly poignant given Wormhole’s recent successes, including a substantial funding round in November 2023 that valued the startup at $2.5 billion. Moreover, following its spinoff from trading company Jump Trading, the transition into an independent entity marked a pivotal moment in Wormhole’s journey toward greater autonomy and prominence in the industry.

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