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Hackers Who Stole $25 Million From Ethereum Arrested, Could Face 20-Year Sentence

Last Updated 5 days ago
James Morales
Last Updated 5 days ago
By James Morales
Verified by Peter Henn

Key Takeaways

  • Anton and James Peraire-Bueno have been arrested for allegedly stealing $25 million in an Ethereum hack.
  • The maximum sentence for their crimes is 20 years in prison.
  • However, if found guilty the brothers are unlikely to receive such a long sentence.

Two brothers have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. These charges come after they allegedly stole $25 million worth of crypto.

If found guilty, Anton and James Peraire-Bueno could face up to 20 years in prison. Indeed, they could get even more if they serve consecutive sentences.

What Are The Sentencing Guidelines For Fraud and Money Laundering?

The three counts of Title 18 fraud and money laundering violations each have a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

However, such a long sentence is unlikely.

For comparison, consider the hacker who stole over $12 million from two Solana-based decentralized exchanges. Last month, Shakeeb Ahmed was sentenced  to three years in prison and three years of supervised release. 

Given the nature of their crimes, it seems likely the Peraire-Bueno brothers will face sentences in a similar range if found guilty.

Ethereum MEV Hack Explained

In a statement , US Attorney Damian Williams noted that the alleged hack “calls the very integrity of the blockchain into question”.

More specifically, the exploit targeted MEV-Boost. Many Ethereum validators use this software program to optimize transactions. 

After studying the behaviour of so-called MEV (Maximum Extractable Value) bots, the Peraire-Buenos allegedly used an Ethereum validator they controlled to exploit them.

Such bots automatically identify and copy arbitrage trades in the mempool. By slightly increasing fees, bots can then pay for a block to include their transaction. As a result, they make a guaranteed profit.

Seeking to take advantage of this, the brothers lured MEV bots into posting illiquid token trades to their validator. They then swapped the lured transactions with tampered ones, thereby blocking the final purchase while keeping the stablecoins the bots originally spent.

High-Tech Exploit Executed in Seconds

In a reference to their enrollment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Williams stated that “the two brothers, who studied computer science and math at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, allegedly used their specialized skills and education to tamper with and manipulate the protocols relied upon by millions of Ethereum users across the globe”. 

He added that once they put their plan into action, the heist only took 12 seconds to complete.

Anton and James Peraire-Bueno were ultimately caught laundering the proceeds from their heist. The government seized the proceeds. 

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