Brothers accused of masterminding 12-second scheme to steal $25M in cryptocurrency

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Two brothers are facing fraud charges after prosecutors say the pair schemed to obtain $25 million in cryptocurrency in just 12 seconds.

Brothers Anton Peraire-Bueno and James Peraire-Bueno were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York.

Calling their alleged actions a “novel scheme by the defendants to exploit the very integrity of the Ethereum blockchain,” the Department of Justice said they were arrested Tuesday in Boston and New York.

Ethereum is a technological system used for digital money, global payments and applications, according to its website.

“The 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,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in the news release.

This is the first time someone has been charged in a scheme of this magnitude, Williams said, again calling it “novel.”

Lawyers for the pair did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s requests for comment.

Brothers planned 12-second heist for months

The scheme was planned for months and completed within seconds, the DOJ said in a news release.

IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Thomas Fattorusso said in the release that the brothers gained access to pending transactions and altered the transfer of electronic currency, “ultimately stealing $25 million in cryptocurrency from their victims.”

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“IRS-CI New York’s Cyber Unit simply followed the money,” Fattorusso said. “Regardless of the complexity of the case, we continue to lead the effort in financial criminal investigations with cutting-edge technology and good-ole-fashioned investigative work, on and off the blockchain.”

According to an indictment, the brothers denied requests to return the stolen cryptocurrency.

Both Anton, 24, and James, 28, have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Each charge comes with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY's NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757. Follow her on Twitter at @SaleenMartin or email her at

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Brothers charged after $25M in cryptocurrency stolen in 12 seconds