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US Department of Justice arrests security engineer in $9 Million crypto heist, charged with wire fraud and money laundering

TL;DR

  • Security engineer Shakeeb Ahmed has been arrested for wire fraud and money laundering, accused of stealing $9 million in cryptocurrency.
  • Ahmed exploited a vulnerability in smart contracts to generate inflated fees and attempted to launder the funds.
  • Charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years each; Ahmed offered to return most of the stolen funds to the exchange.

Shakeeb Ahmed, a security engineer, has been arrested by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on charges of wire fraud and money laundering. The arrest follows an investigation into Ahmed’s alleged theft of $9 million worth of cryptocurrency from an undisclosed decentralized cryptocurrency exchange (DEX). According to the DOJ, Ahmed exploited a vulnerability in the exchange’s smart contracts and used fake pricing data to generate and withdraw inflated fees.

Sophisticated attack on decentralized cryptocurrency exchange

The DOJ revealed that Ahmed, a senior security engineer at an international technology company, orchestrated a complex attack on a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange operating on the Solana blockchain. In July 2022, Ahmed reportedly took advantage of a vulnerability within one of the exchange’s smart contracts, manipulating it to generate approximately $9 million worth of inflated fees. Ahmed then withdrew these fees in the form of cryptocurrency, defrauding the exchange and its users.

To conceal the source and ownership of the stolen funds, Ahmed engaged in various money laundering techniques. The indictment alleges that he conducted token-swap transactions, transferred fraud proceeds from the Solana blockchain to the Ethereum blockchain, exchanged the funds into Monero (a difficult-to-trace cryptocurrency), and utilized overseas cryptocurrency exchanges.

Following the attack, Ahmed allegedly engaged in communication with the exchange, offering to return all of the stolen funds, except for $1.5 million, on the condition that the exchange refrained from involving law enforcement authorities. However, the DOJ’s investigation indicates that Ahmed’s attempts to cover his tracks were unsuccessful.

Potential consequences

Shakeeb Ahmed, 34, now faces wire fraud and money laundering charges, with each charge carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. However, the case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, with assistance from the Southern District of California. The DOJ commended the collaboration between Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) in dismantling sophisticated fraud schemes and holding individuals accountable for their actions.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Damilola Lawrence

Damilola is a crypto enthusiast, content writer, and journalist. When he is not writing, he spends most of his time reading and keeping tabs on exciting projects in the blockchain space. He also studies the ramifications of Web3 and blockchain development to have a stake in the future economy.

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