Ex-Amazon techie stole $12 million in crypto through hacking. What happened next - Hindustan Times
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Ex-Amazon techie stole $12 million in crypto through hacking. What happened next

Apr 13, 2024 08:37 AM IST

The ex-Amazon techie was jailed for insert fake pricing data into decentralised finance platforms and generating $12 million inflated and unearned profits

An ex-Amazon software engineer has been sentenced to three years in jail after he admitted to have stolen millions of dollars in cryptocurrency by hacking two decentralised finance platforms. 

US District Judge Victor Marrero pronounced the sentence to 34-year-old Shakeeb Ahmed, an immigrant from Saudi Arabia, who pleaded guilty in December, Bloomberg reported. He pleaded guilty to taking advantage of the flaws in the decentralised finance (DeFi) platforms' ‘smart contracts’ to insert fake pricing data and generate $12 million inflated and unearned profits that he withdrew in cryptocurrency, the report added.

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‘Smart contracts’ are computer programmes that automatically execute the transactions when pre-determined conditions are met. As per the Bloomberg report, Ahmed's hacked platform was not identified by the prosecutors but it is believed to be Crema Finance, based on the details on the indictment. The other platform was Nirvana Finance, which closed shortly after Ahmed’s July 2022 hack.

Shakeeb Ahmed previously served as the technical lead of the e-commerce giant's ‘bug bounty’ programme, which provides rewards to hackers for finding vulnerabilities in its software.

The prosecutors had sought a four-year sentence in jail for Shakeeb, arguing it was a first conviction for hacking smart contracts. They noted the ex-techie's acceptance of responsibility and that he surrendered most of his ill-gotten wealth but said that the incarceration was warranted due to the seriousness of his crime.

Shakeel Ahmed previously served as the technical lead of Amazon's ‘bug bounty’ programme(Reuters file)
Shakeel Ahmed previously served as the technical lead of Amazon's ‘bug bounty’ programme(Reuters file)

On the other hand, Ahmed's lawyers had sought a probation, arguing that he carried out the two hacks when his mental health was poor. The lawyers said that he hadn’t spent the stolen funds except to pay for a sibling’s medical procedure.

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The accused himself told the judge that he was “filled with shame and disappointment” for his actions, though he also downplayed the seriousness of his actions. “It was more akin to a cheat code in a video game than a hack that undermined the financial system,” Ahmed told the judge.

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