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Brothers Arrested for Masterminding $25 Million Crypto Theft in Record Time

Brothers Arrested for Masterminding $25 Million Crypto Theft in Record Time

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Two MIT graduate brothers have been arrested and charged with exploiting a vulnerability in the Ethereum blockchain and stealing crypto worth $25 million in just 12 seconds. 

Arrest and Charges

In an unprecedented case, two brothers have been arrested and charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly manipulating the Ethereum blockchain, resulting in the theft of $25 million worth of cryptocurrency within a mere 12 seconds.

The brothers Anton and James Peraire-Bueno were apprehended on Tuesday, with Anton arrested in Boston and James in New York. They are expected to appear in federal court on Wednesday afternoon. Their lawyers have not commented on the charges as of now.

Indictment Charges Against Peraire-Bueno Brothers

The indictment charges both brothers with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Federal prosecutors describe the scheme as meticulously planned and executed with the precision of a high-stakes digital heist. The case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Cyber Investigations Unit in New York, with assistance from the New York City Police Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Significance of the Charges

Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, highlighted the significance of the charges, stating that the brothers, with their background in computer science and math from one of the world's most prestigious universities, allegedly used their skills to manipulate the protocols relied upon by millions of Ethereum users globally.

The charges represent a significant action by the U.S. government related to the controversial practice of MEV, or maximal extractable value. MEV allows operators of Ethereum and similar blockchains to preview upcoming transactions from users to earn extra profits. The government suggests in the indictment that the very existence of MEV illustrates the vulnerability of Ethereum itself.

Exploitation of MEV

According to the indictment, the Pepaire-Bueno brothers exploited MEV-boost, an MEV software used by most Ethereum validators. They exploited a bug in MEV-boost's code that allowed them to preview block content before official delivery to validators. The indictment claims the brothers learned their victims' trading behaviors starting in December 2022 and took measures to hide their identities and the stolen proceeds. 

The indictment document claimed, 

"The Victim Traders sold approximately $25 million of various stablecoins or other more liquid cryptocurrencies to purchase particularly illiquid cryptocurrencies. In effect, the Tampered Transactions drained the particular liquidity pools of all the cryptocurrency that the Victim Traders had deposited based on their frontrun trades."

The defendants allegedly laundered the funds through various addresses and sets of transactions, including converting the stolen funds into DAI and then USDC.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. 

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