US charges 2 brothers for stealing $25 million worth of cryptocurrency in 12 seconds

The US Justice Department said Wednesday it charged two brothers for stealing $25 million in cryptocurrency within approximately 12 seconds.

Anton Peraire-Bueno, 24, of Boston, and James Pepaire-Bueno, 28, of New York, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The Justice Department claimed the defendants exploited “the very integrity of the Ethereum blockchain to fraudulently obtain” $25 million worth of cryptocurrency.

The brothers were arrested Tuesday in Boston and New York, respectively, and will have a court appearance late Wednesday before US magistrate judge Paul G. Levenson in the District of Massachusetts and US magistrate judge Valerie Figueredo in the Southern District of New York, it said.

US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said the brothers used “a technologically sophisticated, cutting-edge scheme they plotted for months and executed in seconds.”

“As cryptocurrency markets continue to evolve, the Department will continue to root out fraud, support victims, and restore confidence to these markets,” she added.

US Attorney Damian Williams in the Southern District of New York said the brothers studied computer science and math at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and allegedly used their skills and education to tamper with and manipulate protocols relied upon by millions of Ethereum users across the globe.

“As we allege, the defendants’ scheme calls the very integrity of the blockchain into question,” he said. “This alleged scheme was novel and has never before been charged.”

If convicted, the Peraire-Bueno brothers each face a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count, according to the US agency.

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