Ishan Wahi, a former product manager for Coinbase, was indicted on two charges of wire fraud and two charges of wire fraud conspiracy for allegedly tipping off his brother and friend to make trades based on his insider knowledge.
Wahi allegedly used his access to highly confidential information around which cryptocurrency tokens would be listed and when the news would be announced to tip off his brother and friend, who would then use multiple anonymous Ethereum wallets to purchase large quantities of the token before the prices spiked on the news. According to the press release, the two took positions in at least six tokens before Coinbase announced in April 2022 that they would be listing them on the exchange. The DoJ said that the scheme had generated approximately $1.5 million in gains. The DoJ acknowledged a "Twitter account that is well known in the crypto community", likely referring to Cobie, who identified the suspicious activity.
The DoJ also reported that when Coinbase's director of security operations contacted Wahi in May asking him to attend a meeting regarding the suspicious activity, Wahi purchased a one-way flight to India in an attempt to flee the country. He was stopped by law enforcement.
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York stated in the press release, "Today's charges are a further reminder that Web3 is not a law-free zone... fraud is fraud is fraud, whether it occurs on the blockchain or on Wall Street."
Each of the charges (four against Wahi, two each against his brother and friend) carried a maximum sentence of 20 years. In May 2023, Ishan Wahi was sentenced to two years in prison; Nikhil was sentenced to ten months in prison.