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Former Amazon Developer Admits to Nirvana Finance Hack, Agrees to Repay $12 Million

Shakeeb Ahmed, a former Amazon software security engineer, pleaded guilty to hacking Nirvana Finance and another decentralized cryptocurrency exchange in July 2022, stealing over $12 million in cryptocurrency.

Ahmed has agreed to forfeit $12.3 million in assets and pay $5 million in restitution to the victims. He faces up to five years in prison for the alleged crimes

Nirvana Finance is a small cryptocurrency with 16K Twitter followers. Their main offering is balanced earnings for moderate risk.

According to a press release, Ahmed exploited a vulnerability in Nirvana’s smart contracts to buy and sell its token, ANA, at manipulated prices, making a profit of $3.6 million.

This wiped out Nirvana’s funds and forced it to shut down within a short period of time.

Also in July 2022, Ahmed proceeded to hack another crypto exchange, referred to as the Crypto Exchange, by inserting fake pricing data to generate $9 million in inflated fees that he withdrew in cryptocurrency.

He later offered to return some of the stolen funds if the Crypto Exchange agreed not to report the attack to law enforcement.

In all these crimes, it was reported that Ahmed used his skills in reverse engineering smart contracts and blockchain audits to execute the hacks.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:

“Five months ago, my Office announced the first ever arrest involving an attack on a smart contract. Today, senior security engineer Shakeeb Ahmed pled guilty and agreed to return all of the stolen crypto to his victims. That arrest is now the first ever conviction for such a hack.

Ahmed’s plea has also resulted in him further admitting that he carried out a previously unsolved second multi-million-dollar hack, this time of decentralized finance protocol Nirvana Finance.

In total, Ahmed used his technical knowhow to steal over $12 million and tried to cover his tracks by swapping stolen crypto for Monero, using cryptocurrency mixers, hopping across blockchains, and utilizing overseas crypto exchanges. Today’s conviction shows that no matter how sophisticated the methods used, fraud is fraud, and we will swiftly catch and convict you.”

He also made use of various techniques to launder and hide the stolen cryptocurrency, such as swapping tokens, bridging blockchains, exchanging into Monero, using overseas exchanges, and using cryptocurrency mixers.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Money Laundering & Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit and Complex Frauds & Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys, David R. Felton and Kevin Mead are in charge of the prosecution.

United States Department of Justice

Victor Chijoke

Passionate about blockchain, and the decentralized internet. A writer in the morning, goalie in the evening. The aim is to keep my readers informed about the ever-evolving world of web3 with a unique blend of expertise and storytelling.

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