Two Brothers Educated In Prestigious University Stole Cryptocurrency Worth $25 Million In 12 Seconds, Feds Allege

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John Oyewale Contributor
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A federal indictment charged two brothers Wednesday in Massachusetts with fraud-related offenses for allegedly attacking the Ethereum blockchain and stealing $25 million in cryptocurrency in only about 12 seconds, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Anton Peraire-Bueno, 24, of Boston, and James Pepaire-Bueno, 28, of New York, faced charges of “conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering,” the DOJ’s press release stated.  The brothers spent months meticulously crafting an unprecedented scheme that helped them exploit the very integrity of the Ethereum blockchain and steal the staggering sum in so short a time, prosecutors alleged in the press release.

The two brothers, computer science and math graduates from “one of the most prestigious universities in the world,” compromised the Ethereum protocols that millions of cryptocurrency users rely upon and so swiftly perpetrated the heist using their skills, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York alleged.

By compromising the blockchain’s processes and protocols, the siblings fraudulently accessed and altered victims’ transactions, prosecutors alleged. The suspects are accused of refusing requests to return the stolen cryptocurrency. They rather planned to launder the sum via a series of transactions, “setting up shell companies setting up shell companies and using multiple private cryptocurrency addresses and foreign cryptocurrency exchange,” the allegations continued. (RELATED: Convicted Fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried Was The All-Time ‘Worst’ Cross-Examination Witness, His Lawyer Says)

“This alleged scheme was novel and has never before been charged,” Williams said.

Williams did not name the university the pair attended. Nonetheless, CBS News reported that the pair attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). There, the older sibling bagged a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, computer science and aerospace engineering in June 2019 and a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics in June 2021. The younger graduated three months ago with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering, according to the report.

Each of them could spend up to 60 years in prison, 20 for each charge, if convicted, the DOJ said.

“As cryptocurrency markets continue to evolve, the Department will continue to root out fraud, support victims, and restore confidence to these markets,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco partly said, the press release reported.