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US Brothers Charged for Pulling Off a $25 Million Crypto Heist in 12 Seconds

Two brothers, Anton and James Peraire-Bueno, who attended one of the top U.S. universities, have been accused of stealing $25 million worth of crypto in a mere 12 seconds. They both face charges of money laundering and wire fraud. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), this alleged theft is unprecedented.

The brothers, who reportedly studied at MIT, are said to have executed their scheme in April last year. Lisa Monaco, the U.S. Deputy AG, stated that the brothers used a sophisticated and cutting-edge method to steal $25 million in Ethereum, planning the operation for months but completing it in seconds.

Prosecutors claim the brothers exploited Ethereum’s transaction validation process using specialized skills acquired at the prestigious university. The indictment details that both Anton and James studied computer science and mathematics at MIT. The brothers’ actions, according to U.S. attorney Damian Williams, “threaten the blockchain’s integrity,” which is the open database that records cryptocurrency transactions.

The two allegedly accessed and changed pending private transactions to scam Ethereum traders and take their crypto. Investigators say the process, which the brothers called “the Exploit,” took mere seconds to carry out.

When approached by an Ethereum official, the two allegedly refused to give back the stolen money and instead took action to launder and conceal their illicit gains.

This is the first instance in which criminal charges have been brought against such a novel form of fraud. If convicted, the Peraire-Bueno brothers could each face more than 20 years behind bars.

This incident is part of a larger pattern of crypto thefts. According to recent reports from U.N. sanctions monitors, North Korea used the Tornado Cash site to launder $147.5 million in cryptos that had been stolen in just the month of March. A paper that was presented to the United Nations Security Council sanctions committee connected 97 assaults on crypto companies during the last seven years, resulting in losses of around $3.6 billion to North Korean agents.

The overall amount of damages resulting from hacks and fraudulent operations in the first quarter of 2024 was roughly $336.3 million, which is less than the $437.5 million lost during the same time last year. There were 46 hacking instances and 15 fraud cases reportedduring this quarter.

The BNB Chain and Ethereum were the two most targeted blockchains, together accounting for 73% of the overall losses. Scams and rug pulls accounted for 4.4% of these losses, with hacking incidences accounting for 95.6% of the total.

These crypto-related incidents are a serious concern for entities such as Stronghold Digital Mining Inc. (NASDAQ: SDIG) because they threaten the prospects of the industry at a time when efforts are underway to deepen the penetration of crypto and blockchain technology around the world.

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