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Security Engineer Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison for Cryptocurrency Hack Worth $12M

Shakeeb Ahmed, a cybersecurity engineer who was convicted of stealing approximately $12 million in cryptocurrency, was sentenced to three years in prison on Friday.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the sentence in a press release. Ahmed is accused of hacking into two cryptocurrency exchanges and stealing approximately $12 million in cryptocurrency, according to prosecutors.

Attorneys Adam Schwartz and Bradley Bundy, who represent Ahmed, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When Ahmed was arrested last year, authorities described him as “a senior security engineer at an international technology company.” His LinkedIn profile shows he previously worked at Amazon. But an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch that he was not working there at the time of his arrest.

While the name of one of the victims has never been revealed, Ahmed reportedly hacked into Solana-based cryptocurrency exchange Crema Finance in early July 2022.

Then, a few weeks later, he hacked Nirvana Finance. Ahmed stole $9 million and $3.6 million in the two hacks, respectively. In the case of Nirvana Finance, the stolen funds were “nearly equivalent to all the funds in Nirvana Finance’s possession,” which led to Nirvana Finance’s closure, according to the release.

Ahmed admitted to carrying out two cyberattacks.

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After attacking Crema, Ahmed contacted the company in an attempt to return the stolen funds, but was required to pay a $1.5 million fee (an unofficial finder’s fee) and promise that Crema would not report it to authorities. Report this attack. Crema refused, and Ahmed was eventually arrested.

While this type of transaction is uncommon in the cybersecurity world, it has become normalized in the cryptocurrency world. These transactions are often referred to as “white hat,” although it involves attacking a target without the victim’s consent and stealing the victim’s funds, which is more similar to what “black hat” hackers would typically do. Ahmed’s case shows that while the crypto industry has acknowledged that such transactions are sometimes a cost of doing business, law enforcement does not view it that way.

In addition to three years in prison, Ahmed was reportedly sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $12.4 million “as well as a large amount of cryptocurrency and pay more than $5 million in restitution to the cryptocurrency exchange and Nirvana.” . Press Release from the Prosecutor.

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