MIT graduates accused of pioneering US$25 million crypto heist

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17th May 2024 – (New York) Anton Peraire-Bueno, 24, and James Peraire-Bueno, 28, have been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with wire fraud and money laundering involving an unprecedented $25 million theft of Ethereum cryptocurrency. This case marks the first criminal charges for a fraud of this nature, according to federal prosecutors.

The brothers, both alumni of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), reportedly utilised their advanced training in mathematics and computer science to orchestrate the heist in April 2023. “The Peraire-Bueno brothers orchestrated a technologically sophisticated scheme, meticulously planned over months and executed within seconds, to steal $25 million in Ethereum,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco stated.

The detailed indictment reveals that the duo exploited a vulnerability in Ethereum’s transaction validation process. This manipulation allowed them to illicitly access and alter pending transactions to divert funds from legitimate traders—a method they allegedly called “the Exploit.”

“The very integrity of the blockchain is called into question by this scheme,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams commented, underscoring the severity of the breach in what is supposed to be a secure digital ledger.

Further complicating the case, the brothers are accused of refusing to return the stolen assets when approached by Ethereum representatives. Instead, they allegedly engaged in elaborate methods to launder and conceal their ill-gotten gains.

The investigation, led by agents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), has spotlighted the novel nature of the crime. The Peraire-Bueno brothers now face potential sentences exceeding 20 years each if convicted, highlighting the serious legal consequences of their alleged actions.