• Anton and James Peraire-Bueno were arrested after several indictments, including wire fraud.
  • The two brothers allegedly exploited Ethereum's MEV to obtain $25 million worth of ill-gotten funds within 12 seconds.
  • This is the first time the Justice Department has charged individuals for such a scheme.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Wednesday that Anton and James Peraire-Bueno were arrested for an alleged maximum extractable value (MEV) exploit that saw them obtain $25 million.

Read more: Ethereum faces key resistance in attempt at short-term bull run, Solana flips ETH Mainnet in terms of revenue

Crypto bros arrested for MEV exploit

The DOJ arrested the two brothers on Wednesday, charging them with accusations of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to the US Attorney's office press release, the brothers leveraged their background in mathematics and computer science, coupled with experience in crypto trading, to conduct the scheme. In an MEV attack process described by the Justice Department, the brothers "manipulated and tampered with the process and protocols by which transactions are validated and added to the Ethereum blockchain."

MEV is the maximum profits a miner or validator can extract from arbitrarily including, excluding and reordering transactions during the block production process.

Also read: US Senators raise grave concerns over DOJ's policies towards cryptocurrency asset providers

The DOJ claimed the brothers planned the attack for months, which involved using shell companies, foreign exchanges, and a privacy layer network, among other variables. Anton and James used a series of "bait transactions" to trick MEV bots in a scheme that saw them gaining access to the full content of a proposed block. The brothers then reordered transactions within the block to their advantage before they were published on the Ethereum blockchain.

This 12-second action resulted in a theft of $25 million from victim traders, claimed the DOJ. When planning the scheme, the brothers allegedly searched for ways to carry out the MEV exploit, launder their proceeds, and conceal their involvement. This marks the first time the US is charging individuals for such a scheme.

Read more: Tornado Cash developer Roman Storm’s motion to dismiss accusations rebuffed by US DOJ

While many consider MEV a "normal" activity in the crypto community, the recent charges against Anton and James will prove crucial in defining crypto activities that the government may consider a crime. US Attorney Damian Williams said, "..as the Indictment makes clear, no matter how sophisticated the fraud or how new the techniques used to accomplish it, the career prosecutors of this Office will be relentless in pursuing people who attack the integrity of all financial systems."

Some members of the crypto community have reacted to the indictment:

Neeraj Agrawal of Coin Center also reacted to the news:

Many MEV bot operators may pause operations following the recent charges.

If convicted, Anton James faces a potential penalty of twenty years in prison.


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