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$25 Million In Crypto Stolen in 12 Secs by MIT Brothers: How and Why?

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Two brothers, who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), were charged for attempting a $25 Million crypto heist.    

Another day, another scam, the fraudulent and illicit activities in the crypto market aren’t ending. MIT brothers Anton Peraire-Bueno, 24, and James Pepaire-Bueno, 28, committed wire fraud to launder over $25 Million worth of Ethereum (ETH).   

Both the brothers executed their plan within 12 seconds and were charged by the US Department of Justice (DoJ). According to Forbes data, over 50 crypto attacks were attempted in the first three months of 2024, totaling US$430 Million worth of stolen money. 

The Heist Attempt and Legal Proceedings  

On May 15, a press release from the Office of Public Affairs uncovered another major crypto heist. While sharing the post on X, DoJ unraveled an attack on the Ethereum blockchain and stole over $25 Million in cryptocurrency.  

Anton Peraire-Bueno of Boston and James Pepaire-Bueno of New York emerged as the main faces behind the heist attempt, laundering over $25 Million worth of ETH. Both gained access to the pending ETH private transaction and altered the transactions to steal the victims’ funds.  

At press time, the ETH price was recorded at $3,017.76, after a spike of 3.89% in a day with a market cap of $362,465,504,505 and $15,574,058,730 in 24-hour volume.    

As per the report, they plotted the technologically sophisticated, cutting-edge scheme for months and executed it in 12 seconds. However, both failed to hide themselves from DoJ’s eagle eye and will be presented to the local court. 

Steps Taken to Hide the Money

As technology is advancing, the skills and ideas for scams and illicit attempts also evolve. Anton Peraire-Bueno and James Pepaire-Bueno, who studied computer science and math at MIT, used their skills and education to exploit the ETH blockchain.

Furthermore, both brothers refused to return the stolen money and took different ways to hide it. They set up multiple shell companies and used different private cryptocurrency addresses and exchanges to steal money.       

Both will be presented to the local court today and if convicted, they will be sentenced to 20 years in prison for each count.  

Cryptocurrency Crimes: Data and Facts

According to Chainalysis data, hackers received over $24.2 Billion from illicit addresses, which is over 0.34% of the total volume of on-chain transactions.

MIT

Illicit transaction volume by asset type I Source: Chainalysis  

Before 2022, Bitcoin (BTC) was one of the favorite assets of scammers and hackers, reaching over 50% of the total illicit transaction volume in 2021. The pattern changed in the past two years as hackers shifted toward stablecoins amid recent growth in popularity. 

In the same manner, ETH also succeeded in positioning itself as one of the least preferred assets for illicit activities. The illicit transaction volume in ETH dropped from 30% in 2018 to over 10% in 2023. 

Due to high volatility, the data shows that hackers and scammers are the least interested in BTC and ETH. However, the DoJ is trying to root out fraud, support victims, and maintain the trust of individuals in the crypto market.    

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