May 24, 2024

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MIT brothers accused of stealing $25 million in cryptocurrencies in 12 seconds in Ethereum blockchain scheme

MIT brothers accused of stealing $25 million in cryptocurrencies in 12 seconds in Ethereum blockchain scheme

Washington — Two brothers from New York and Boston were taken into federal custody Tuesday, accused by prosecutors of developing a new criminal scheme to steal about $25 million in cryptocurrency from a commonly used blockchain, according to a newly unsealed indictment.

Anton and James Berrier-Bueno were charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Investigators accused them of spending months planning their heists within the Ethereum network, luring their victims and creating shell companies to hide their illicit profits.

According to charging documents, the couple studied mathematics and computer science “at one of the most prestigious universities in the country,” which prosecutors said gave them a unique set of skills that allowed them to carry out the first-of-its-kind endeavor. In a few seconds. James Peraire-Bueno is listed as 2021 graduate From the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the MIT Registrar’s Office confirmed that Anton Berer Bueno received a BS in Computer Science and Engineering in February 2024, and James Berer Bueno received a BS in Mathematics, Computer Science, and Aeronautical Engineering in June 2019, as well as a Master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics in June 2021.

The brothers allegedly began laying the groundwork in December 2022, by engaging in what investigators described as a “baiting” operation that targeted three specific victim traders on the Ethereum digital platform. They are specifically accused of exploiting “validators” on the blockchain, vital components of the integrity and security of transactions.

“In doing so, they fraudulently gained access to pending private transactions and used this access to alter certain transactions and obtain cryptocurrency for their victims,” prosecutors alleged in court documents.

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Investigators said the defendants’ conspiracy took months to plan, but only 12 seconds to execute, and allegedly raised nearly $25 million from their unwitting victims.

Since April and June last year, Perrier Buenos Aires has been accused of laundering its money through shell companies. The duo even refused repeated requests from the victim, the victim’s lawyer and an Ethereum representative to return the cryptocurrency, prosecutors said.

They were arrested on Tuesday and are expected to make their first appearance in federal courts in New York and Boston on Wednesday.

“As cryptocurrency markets continue to evolve, the Department of Justice will continue to root out fraud, support victims, and restore trust in these markets,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement.

The brothers’ lawyer could not immediately be identified.