There are mistakes – like calling Tim Cook "Tim Apple" – and then there are mistakes – like spending 2,100 Ether (ETH) in transaction fees. That's what happened on February 19, when Ethereum mining pool Sparkpool received a mysterious payout of 2,100 ETH just for having mined one block on the Ethereum blockchain. After a month of speculation surrounding why the unusually high mining payout was sent, Sparkpool has shared a tweet showing the original sender asking that the 2,100 ETH be split between the two.
At the time of the transaction, the cryptosphere was awash with rumors and guesses as the community tried to figure out why the 2,100 ETH was sent. Some, like Jimmy Zhong, cofounder and CEO of the decentralized app platform IOST, gave it a positive spin, believing the fee to either be a generous tip or just a mistake. Others on reddit, however, questioned whether or not the user was trying to "wash" stolen ETH through the mining pool.
If random reddit guesses aren't really your thing, Taylor Dawson, an open source developer at blockchain analytics site Amberdata, took to Medium to explain that the 2,100 ETH transaction fee was the result of "very very bad luck." Dawson writes that, while money laundering had been considered, the large fee was most likely sent by a "bot gone haywire," adding that "[t]he developer must have confused gas price with the transaction value, walked away and then didn't realise the mistake until it was to [sic] late."
As of today, Sparkpool has shared an email with CoinDesk showing the mining pool had been anonymously contacted on February 25 by an unnamed South Korean blockchain firm claiming to be the sender of the 2,100 ETH. To verify the anonymous emailer was the sender of the fee, Sparkpool asked that the user send .002517 ETH and .666 ETH from their 0x587 address.
Finally, after sending the .002517 ETH, the user sent the .666 ETH with a note that read "Thank you Sparkpool and your miners for helping us to recover our loss, we are willing to share half of 2,100 ETH with the miners to thanks for miners' integrity." Eventually, Sparkpool agreed to the terms, sending back 1,050 ETH (about $140,000) and thanking the original sender for their generosity.