Hacker Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison for Stealing Over $12M From Crypto Exchanges

Shakeeb Ahmed stole over $12 million from Nirvana Finance and a DEX thought to be Crema Finance.

AccessTimeIconApr 12, 2024 at 3:53 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 12, 2024 at 3:56 p.m. UTC
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Shakeeb Ahmed, a security engineer who stole over $12 million from two different decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges (DEXs) built on Solana, was sentenced to three years in prison and three years of supervised release by a federal judge on Friday.

Ahmed was arrested last year on wire fraud and money laundering charges, after federal officials alleged he stole $9 million from a DEX built on Solana – which appears to be Crema Finance. He pleaded guilty to one count of computer fraud in December.

He will also forfeit $12.3 million and pay $5 million in restitution as part of his sentence.

Prosecutors asked for a four-year sentence, noting that the statutory maximum was five years but Ahmed had accepted responsibility by pleading guilty and surrendering the proceeds of the hacks and therefore warranted "a slightly below Guidelines variance," according to a sentencing memo filed last week.

Ahmed's defense team argued for no prison time, saying that in addition to his acceptance of responsibility, he had voluntarily disclosed his hack of Nirvana Finance to prosecutors.

"Shakeeb already had been indicted for the Crypto Exchange hack, and the government had offered Shakeeb a deal to plead guilty to that hack," the defense filing said. "Although Shakeeb knew that disclosing another hack would result in additional consequences, and could take his favorable plea deal off of the table, Shakeeb voluntarily came forward anyway."

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Ahmed's guilty plea was "the first ever conviction for the hack of a smart contract."

"No matter how novel or sophisticated the hack, this Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to following the money and bringing hackers to justice. And as today’s sentence shows, time in prison – and forfeiture of all the stolen crypto – is the inevitable consequence of such destructive hacks," he said.

Edited by Aoyon Ashraf.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

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