Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct the year of the alleged incident.
ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Opening statements were delivered Tuesday afternoon in a most unusual theft trial.
Arapahoe County prosecutors have charged 31-year-old Mark Shin with stealing the equivalent of $9 million from a cryptocurrency known as ICON.
As the Problem Solvers previewed last week, Shin is accused of taking advantage of a software update that allowed users to mint their own ICON coins or tokens.
Investigators say on Aug. 22, 2020, Shin made 558 transactions over 11 hours on his personal computer to mint nearly 14 million ICON tokens without paying what they were worth at the time: nearly $9 million.
Prosecutors say Shin tried to hide what he did by immediately moving the coins through a computer program known as Tornado Cash to shift the tokens into different crypto wallets.
ICON fixed the software vulnerability as soon as it realized what was happening to prevent users from printing ICON tokens without paying any money to the exchange.
Defense: No crime if the coin didn’t exist before
Prosecutors told the jury Tuesday afternoon that ICON was able to track Shin’s IP address and contacted him through Twitter, offering him a $250,000 finders fee if he would stop his activity, but he refused.
Shin’s defense team told jurors that ICON was trying to make Shin a scapegoat for its own failure to release a software update known as Revision 9, without first verifying it didn’t have any vulnerabilities.
Shin’s defense is that he did exactly what ICON’s code allowed at the time and that there is no crime because the tokens he minted didn’t belong to anyone else or any other entity.
In fact, Shin’s defense attorney pointed out that when Shin’s ICON assets were frozen, he filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to force ICON and the federal government to return his assets.
It’s not known if or how Shin’s civil case was resolved.
The Aurora man has been charged with cybercrime theft of more than $1 million, theft of more than $1 million and money laundering.
He faces up to 24 years each on the theft counts. The trial is expected to wrap by the end of the week.