Synthetix Trader Rolls Back Broken Trades That Netted $1 Billion Profit

A rogue API caused Synthetix pricing to go wild. A bot profited, but the bot owner rolled back the trades.

AccessTimeIconJun 25, 2019 at 3:10 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 9:21 a.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global hub for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

In what amounts to a particularly heart-warming example of the power - and responsibilities - of decentralization, Synthetix founder Kain Warwick announced that an error that netted one legitimate user over $1 billion in profit has been fixed and that the user rolled back all the transactions in exchange for a bug bounty.

The error occurred when a commercial API began reporting wildly high prices for the Korean Won.

"Our price oracle has a mechanism for discarding outliers and should have absorbed this discrepancy gracefully, unfortunately the price feed for KRW was only being served by two API’s at that time due to an earlier unrelated outage which had not been caught by our exception reporting," wrote Warwick.

From the report:

There are currently a number of trading bots actively trading on using different strategies, one of these bots was able to detect this price error and exploit it to trade into and out of sKRW during the window where the API was incorrectly reporting the price. This resulted in several trades with profits of 1000x, resulting in over $1b in profit in less than an hour.

Luckily the bot owner understood their preposterous position and agreed to send the crypto back, a noble and/or important part of growing ecosystems like this one.

"No funds were lost, the owner of the bot who exploited the issue agreed to reverse the trades," Warwick said. "He was unaware of the issue (his bot was fully automated) until after the news broke. He reached out on Reddit once he knew and we negotiated a bounty for reversing he trades. His goal was to build a profitable bot and he wanted to make sure the profit he had made up to that point, about 30k, was safe. So we paid him a bounty for reversing the trade, since his bot was the only one that was able to exploit the oracle defect."


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.

Read more about