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Gone In 12 Seconds! Siblings Held For Stealing $25 M In Crypto Fraud

"The defendants' scheme calls the very integrity of the blockchain into question," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.
Cryptocurrency fraud

BOSTON: Two brothers who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were arrested Wednesday for stealing $25 million worth of cryptocurrency.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan described the heist by Anton Peraire-Bueno, 24, and James Peraire-Bueno, 28, as “novel”. The case marked the first time that such a fraud had ever been the subject of U.S. criminal charges, they said.

In April 2023, they stole $25 million from traders in just 12 seconds by gaining access to pending transactions and altering the movement of cryptocurrency.

“As we allege, the defendants’ scheme calls the very integrity of the blockchain into question,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.

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An indictment charged them with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Anton Peraire-Bueno was arrested in Boston, while James Peraire-Bueno was arrested in New York.

Their lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Both brothers had attended Cambridge, Massachusetts-based MIT, where according to prosecutors they studied computer science and math. This helped them develop the education they used to carry out their fraud.

The brothers allegedly plotted to manipulate and tamper with the protocols used to validate transactions for inclusion on the Ethereum blockchain, a public ledger that records each cryptocurrency transaction.

Prosecutors said they did so by exploiting a vulnerability in the code of software called MEV-boost. This is used by most Ethereum network “validators,” who are responsible for checking that new transactions are valid before they are added to the blockchain.

After carrying out the heist, the brothers rejected requests to return the funds and instead took steps to launder and hide the stolen cryptocurrency.

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In a career spanning three decades and counting, I’ve been the foreign editor of The Telegraph, Outlook Magazine and the New Indian Express. I helped set up rediff.com’s editorial operations in San Jose and New York, helmed sify.com, and was the founder editor of India.com. My work has featured in national and international publications like the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies, Global Times and Ashahi Shimbun. My one constant over all these years, however, has been the attempt to understand rising India’s place in the world. I can rustle up a mean salad, my oil-less pepper chicken is to die for, and it just takes some beer and rhythm and blues to rock my soul.