The Ethereum account holder paid $2.6 million to transfer $134 in ETH. A day later, he again paid such a commission for a transaction of 350 ETH. Most likely, this mistake was made by a bot, not a human.

On June 10, an unidentified user paid a record fee for a transaction in Ethereum. Apparently, he mixed up the fields of transaction fee and transaction volume, eventually paying 10 688 ETH ($ 2.6 million) in fees for sending 0.55 ETH ($134) from the Sparkpool mining pool. The money was sent to an address of the South Korean crypto-exchange Bithumb.

This strange transaction instantly came into a spotlight. Sparkpool tweeted that it had started an investigation into this case. However, there are little hopes that Ethereum miners will return millions paid for transaction to be included in the block. Given the architecture of the blockchain system, it is impossible to reverse a transaction or cancel it after receiving the confirmation by the sender. Moreover, the fee, most likely, has already been distributed between different miners working through the Sparkpool pool.

A day later, the story mysteriously repeated. The same holder of the Ethereum account again paid 10 688 ETH ($2.6 million) as a commission for a transaction of 350 ETH ($86 275). This time, the Ethermine mining pool became the recipient. “We believe that this was an accident and in order to resolve this issue the tx sender should contact us at via DM or our support portal immediately!” Bitfly, the Ethermine mining pool operator, tweeted.

The fact that the ETH account holder repeated his error may indicate that the account is not owned by a human person, but by a bot, suggested Sebastian Bürgel from Hoprnet startup. In his opinion, this bot could be created for money laundering, the regularity with which transactions are made speaks in favor of this version.

“Here the sender account does NOT look like an exchange (typically round numbers maybe minus fees) but rather like a dedicated laundering bot sending *exactly* one transaction per minute for quite some time with remarkable precision - keep in mind that tx needs to be mined in time.”

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, agrees with his opinion:

“So the million-dollar txfees *may* actually be blackmail. The theory: hackers captured partial access to exchange key; they can't withdraw but can send no-effect txs with any gasprice. So they threaten to "burn" all funds via txfees unless compensated.”

Ethereum users have full control over their transaction fees. They can choose how much they want to pay to include the transaction in the block. The more they pay, the higher the chances that their transaction will be processed quickly. But to include a transaction in the nearest block, you do not have to pay more than a few dollars.