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Brothers Indicted for $25 Million Crypto Theft in Groundbreaking Ethereum Blockchain Exploit

The United States Department of Justice has recently disclosed an indictment concerning a major cryptocurrency theft.

According to the indictment, two individuals orchestrated a sophisticated scheme that undermined the Ethereum blockchain, resulting in the theft of $25 million in cryptocurrency.

The individuals identified, brothers Anton Peraire-Bueno and James Pepaire-Bueno, have been formally charged with several serious offenses, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud itself, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

These charges relate directly to their actions, which involved manipulating blockchain transactions to illicitly acquire cryptocurrency.

U.S. authorities detailed that the theft occurred “within approximately 12 seconds,” showcasing the rapid and calculated nature of the crime.

The indictment states: “These brothers allegedly committed a first-of-its-kind manipulation of the Ethereum blockchain by fraudulently gaining access to pending transactions, altering the movement of the electronic currency, and ultimately stealing $25 million in cryptocurrency from their victims,” explained Thomas Fattorusso, a special agent with the IRS Criminal Investigation’s New York Field Office.

The technique used by the perpetrators involved exploiting the maximum extractable value (MEV) of the Ethereum blockchain.

They executed a series of test transactions which manipulated the blockchain into releasing the contents of a block prematurely.

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This manipulation enabled them to divert $25 million worth of cryptocurrency to their control.

Despite the magnitude of their operation, when approached by authorities, the brothers reportedly refused to return the stolen funds.

Instead, they attempted to conceal their illicit gains through the use of shell companies and foreign cryptocurrency exchanges, further complicating the legal proceedings against them.

The funds were transferred across various wallets in an effort to obfuscate their trail.

The potential consequences for these crimes are severe, with the brothers facing up to 20 years in prison for each charge if convicted.

This case highlights not only the vulnerabilities within blockchain technologies but also the significant repercussions of exploiting these systems.

This incident coincides with a report from blockchain security platform CertiK, which noted that April saw approximately $25 million lost to cryptocurrency hacks, exploits, and scams, marking the lowest monthly total since 2021.

In contrast, the total losses for 2023 amounted to around $1 billion due to illicit activities involving cryptocurrencies.

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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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