Nirvana Hack: Engineer Sentenced to Three Years


Shakeeb Ahmed, a computer security engineer, has been sentenced to three years in prison followed by three years of supervised release by the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Court. This sentencing comes in the wake of Ahmed’s involvement in flash loan attacks on the decentralized Crypto Exchange and Nirvana exchanges in 2022.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams highlighted that Ahmed’s conviction marks the first for hacking a smart contract. As part of his sentence, Ahmed has been ordered to forfeit $12.3 million, along with “a significant quantity of cryptocurrency,” and to pay $5 million in restitution to the affected exchanges.

As reported earlier by TheCoinRise, U.S. Justice Department has made significant strides in a high-profile cryptocurrency fraud case, with charges brought against two individuals and a guilty plea secured from a third party.

Nirvana and Crypto Exchange to Receive the Funds

During the investigation, it was revealed that Ahmed had offered to return most of the stolen funds to Crypto Exchange, with the exception of $1.5 million, on the condition that the exchange refrained from contacting law enforcement. 

Similarly, Nirvana was offered the return of funds for $600,000, but Ahmed demanded $1.4 million. However, no agreement was reached.

Severe Repercussions for Nirvana

The aftermath of the hack had severe repercussions for Nirvana, with its NIRV stablecoin depegging from the U.S. dollar and its native ANA coin plummeting by 85%, eventually leading to the closure of the exchange.

Ahmed’s laundering of the hacked funds involved complex methods, including token-swap transactions, transferring fraud proceeds across different blockchain networks, exchanging funds into privacy-centric cryptocurrencies like Monero, utilizing overseas cryptocurrency exchanges, and employing cryptocurrency mixers such as Samourai Whirlpool.

Ahmed’s Involvement in Crema Exchange

While Ahmed’s involvement in a flash loan attack on the Crema exchange in July 2022 using similar methods was observed, federal charges did not directly link him to that incident.

At the time of the attacks, Ahmed was employed as a senior security engineer for an international technology company, and he served as the technical lead of Amazon’s bug bounty program, according to Bloomberg.

Following his arrest in New York in July and subsequent charges of wire fraud and money laundering, Ahmed pleaded guilty to a single charge of computer fraud in December. Since then, he has been released on bail and reportedly works for a mental health care startup, seeking therapy for his actions during his trial.

On the other hand, the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO), has suggested a minimum 17-year sentence for the lawyer responsible for laundering money via the OneCoin crypto fraud scheme

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