SEC charges Eisenberg with manipulating Mango Markets to steal $116 million

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday charged DeFi trader Avraham Eisenberg with orchestrating an attack on Mango Markets by manipulating the crypto trading platform’s MNGO token and draining $116 million in crypto assets.

The SEC contends that MNGO is a security. Known as a governance token, MNGO allows holders to vote on the platform’s operations.

Eisenberg, a 27 year-old U.S. citizen who was arrested and detained at MDC Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, is awaiting transport to appear before the Southern District of New York where he is facing parallel criminal charges brought by the Justice Department, and civil charges brought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

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The SEC complaint alleges that Eisenberg, who perpetrated the scheme while living in Puerto Rico, used an account that he controlled on Mango Markets to sell a large amount of perpetual futures for MNGO tokens and used a separate account on Mango Markets to purchase those same perpetual futures. According to the SEC, Eisenberg then engaged in a series of large purchases of the thinly traded MNGO token for the purpose of artificially raising the price of MNGO token relative to the crypto asset USD Coin.

The complaint alleges that, as a result of these transactions, the price of MNGO perpetual futures on Mango Markets, including those held by Eisenberg, increased. Eisenberg then used the increased value of his MNGO perpetual futures position to borrow and withdraw approximately $116 million worth of various crypto assets from Mango Markets, effectively draining all available assets from the Mango Markets platform, the SEC said.

“As we allege, Eisenberg engaged in a manipulative and deceptive scheme to artificially inflate the price of the MNGO token, which was purchased and sold as a crypto asset security, in order to borrow and then withdraw nearly all available assets from Mango Markets, which left the platform at a deficit when the security price returned to its pre-manipulation level,” said David Hirsch, chief of the SEC’s crypto assets and cyber unit.

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