‘Can I cross border with crypto?’: Hacker turned to Google after $9M DeFi raid

In the months after stealing millions in crypto, the accused proceeded to Google things like “defi hacks FBI”

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Sundry Photography/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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The Southern District of New York unveiled an indictment against an individual who stole $9 million from an unnamed decentralized cryptocurrency exchange. 

Following the theft, Shakeeb Ahmed proceeded to Google Search terms presumably in the hopes of evading the authorities. 

“As alleged, Mr. Ahmed used his skills as a computer security engineer to steal millions of dollars. He then allegedly tried to hide the stolen funds, but his skills were no match for IRS Criminal Investigation’s Cyber Crimes Unit,” said Tyler Hatcher, an agent at the IRS-CI.

Ahmed then proceeded to contact the crypto exchange to offer most of the money back in return for pocketing $1.5 million. He also proceeded to inform the exchange of its “technical vulnerabilities.”

And then, as one does, Ahmed took to Google to search terms related to the crime he had committed. He looked up “defi hack” and visited news articles connected to his attack. 

According to the indictment, Ahmed had used a VPN to conceal his internet protocol address during the attack. Afterward, he attempted to search for information to ensure that the VPN would not lead back to him.

The hack, which happened in July 2022, led to a number of different search inquiries from Ahmed as he waited to see if he had gotten away with his crime.

In August, Ahmed searched “defi hacks FBI” as well as “wire fraud” and “how to prove malicious intent.”

In a twist of irony, Ahmed is charged with wire fraud by the prosecutors. He is also charged with money laundering. 

Ahmed was also interested in “how to stop federal government from seizing assets” and then researched how he could either buy citizenship — presumably to another country — or cross borders with the $1.5 million he still had from the attack. 

The timeline of the attack was given in the indictment — which states that Ahmed contacted the exchange “almost immediately after the attack” on July 3, and then continued to negotiate with the exchange on July 6, lines up with the hack of liquidity protocol CremaFinance last July. 

CremaFinance did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Blockworks asking if the indictment was related to the $9 million hack last July.

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