Brothers allegedly steal $25M in crypto scheme

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Ethereum Heist: Unprecedented Cryptocurrency Scheme by Educated Brothers

Two highly educated brothers were alleged to have orchestrated a groundbreaking cryptocurrency scheme that resulted in the theft of $25 million from the ethereum blockchain within a mere 12 seconds. The US Department of Justice unsealed an indictment on Wednesday revealing the details of this complex and sophisticated operation, which has raised questions about the fundamental integrity of blockchain technology.

The Alleged Scheme

Anton, 24, and James Peraire-Bueno, 28, utilized their backgrounds in computer science and mathematics—gained from a top-tier university—to exploit vulnerabilities in the ethereum blockchain’s protocols. These protocols are fundamental to the security and reliability of millions of transactions taking place in the cryptocurrency realm. By tampering with specific transactions in the blockchain network, the brothers were able to swiftly and stealthily siphon off substantial amounts of cryptocurrency from unsuspecting victims.

Reports from the US Department of Justice outlined the meticulous planning undertaken by the brothers before initiating their scheme in December 2022. Their technical sophistication allowed them to gain unauthorized access to private transactions pending validation on the blockchain. This unauthorized access enabled them to manipulate the transaction order, redirecting funds to their own accounts through a series of elaborate tactics.

Modus Operandi

One of the key aspects of the alleged scheme involved the manipulation of pending private transactions before they were added to the blockchain. This crucial period, when validators review and approve transactions for inclusion in the blockchain, was exploited by the brothers through the establishment of a network of ethereum validators via shell companies and foreign exchanges. This obscured their identities and facilitated the alteration of blocks to facilitate the unauthorized transfer of cryptocurrency.

Furthermore, the brothers deployed a technique involving “bait transactions” that attracted the attention of specialized bots active on the ethereum network. By exploiting a vulnerability in the block structuring process, the brothers were able to reorder transactions in their favor before confirming the block—and effectively completing the heist.

Consequences and Investigation

Upon discovering the fraudulent activities, victims sought restitution, only to be rebuffed by the brothers who concealed the stolen funds through various means. An elaborate web of shell companies and the use of private cryptocurrency addresses endeavored to obfuscate the funds’ origins, making it difficult for law enforcement authorities to trace and recover them.

The investigation, spearheaded by the IRS Criminal Investigation’s New York Field Office, revealed the extent of the illicit gains and the elaborate measures taken by the brothers to shield themselves from legal repercussions. From setting up shell companies to researching crypto money laundering practices, the evidence uncovered painted a vivid picture of meticulous planning and calculated evasion tactics employed by the perpetrators.

Regulatory Impact

The news of the indictment coincides with the SEC’s impending decision on an ethereum exchange-traded fund (ETF). Given the scale and brazen nature of the alleged cryptocurrency heist, SEC Chair Gary Gensler—known for his cautious stance on cryptocurrencies—is likely to scrutinize the security and regulatory implications of approving an ethereum ETF. The incident, as reported by CNBC, could influence the SEC’s decision-making process, emphasizing the need for robust investor protection measures in an increasingly complex digital asset landscape.

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About Post Author

Chris Jones

Hey there! 👋 I'm Chris, 34 yo from Toronto (CA), I'm a journalist with a PhD in journalism and mass communication. For 5 years, I worked for some local publications as an envoy and reporter. Today, I work as 'content publisher' for InformOverload. 📰🌐 Passionate about global news, I cover a wide range of topics including technology, business, healthcare, sports, finance, and more. If you want to know more or interact with me, visit my social channels, or send me a message.
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