Cybersecurity Specialist Arrested for Stealing $9 Million from Cryptocurrency Exchange
U.S. authorities have announced the arrest of cybersecurity specialist Shakeeb Ahmed, who is accused of hacking into an unnamed cryptocurrency exchange and stealing approximately $9 million.
The 34-year-old New Yorker has been charged with wire fraud and money laundering. According to the indictment, Ahmed exploited a smart contract vulnerability in July 2022, depriving the cryptocurrency exchange and its users of approximately $9 million.
After the theft of funds, Ahmed, who at the time was working as a senior information security specialist at an international technology company (according to TechCrunch, it was Amazon), reportedly contacted the management of the crypto exchange and returned most of the funds, with the exception of about 1.5 million dollars he kept for himself as a reward for discovering the vulnerability.
How the Funds Were Laundered
“We believe that he then laundered the stolen funds through a series of complex blockchain transfers and exchanged cryptocurrencies, moving from one blockchain to another, using foreign cryptocurrency exchanges,” US prosecutors say.
Although the name of the affected exchange was not disclosed, experts have already linked this arrest to the robbery of the Crema Finance platform in 2022. Then, about $9 million was indeed stolen from the exchange, and a few days later the company announced that the hacker had agreed to receive a “reward” of approximately $1.68 million and returned the rest of the assets.
The US Department of Justice notes that Ahmed’s work as an information security specialist gave him all the necessary skills for hacking, including “reverse engineering of smart contracts and blockchain audits.”
The indictment lists Ahmed’s search queries made after he carried out the break-in. Claiming what he was looking for:
news about the attack;
information about the types of charges that can be brought for hacking;
criminal lawyers with experience in dealing with cybercriminals;
the ability of law enforcement to investigate a cyberattack ki;
advice on fleeing the US to avoid criminal charges;
how to avoid extradition;
how to save the stolen cryptocurrency;
how to cross the border with cryptocurrency;
how to prevent federal authorities from seizing assets;
how to buy citizenship.
If found guilty, Ahmed faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.