Two MIT graduates arrested for $25 million crypto heist

Two MIT graduates arrested for $25 million crypto heist
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Two brothers and former students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been charged with a scheme to steal millions of dollars' worth of cryptocurrency by exploiting a vulnerability in the Ethereum blockchain. 

"Once they put their plan into action, their heist only took 12 seconds to complete," said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams of the Southern District of New York, who announced the indictment last month. 

Anton Peraire-Bueno and James Peraire-Bueno, both 24 years old, are accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. They allegedly used their skills in science and math to manipulate pending transactions on the Ethereum network, redirecting funds from other users' wallets to accounts they controlled. 

The brothers exploited a feature of the Ethereum blockchain that allows users to see pending transactions before they are confirmed by the network. The brothers tried to cover their tracks by deleting evidence from their computers and searching online for ways to conceal their involvement and evade prosecution. However, they were identified and arrested after an investigation by the IRS Criminal Investigation and the FBI, with the assistance of the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. 

“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,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas Fattorusso of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) New York Field Office. 

The brothers face up to 20 years in prison for each count. They are currently in custody and awaiting trial. 

The case is the latest example of how cybercriminals are targeting the booming cryptocurrency market, which has attracted millions of investors and users in recent years. The authorities warn that users should be vigilant and cautious when dealing with digital assets, as they may be vulnerable to hacking, theft, or fraud.