July 17, 2024

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The Mango Market Attacker does not care about false “premises” behind some of the criticism he’s received for his recent actions.

Avraham Eisenberg, better known as the Mango Market Attacker, recently spoke with Laura Shin on her Unchained podcast, discussing his perspective about the recent hack. 

Earlier this month, Eisenberg and his team manipulated the DeFi trading platform Mango Markets, managing to extract some $140 million.

Essentially, Eisenberg took out a loan, then through a separate account, drove up the price of the collateral. Consequently, this enabled him to take out much larger loans, which subsequently drained the platform of liquidity. 

Eisenberg then negotiated a settlement with the platform, enabling users to withdraw their funds, despite the platform becoming insolvent. As part of the settlement, Eisenberg and his team walked away with some $47 million. 

All Our Actions Were Legal

Eisenberg said in a statement that, “all of our actions were legal open market actions, using the protocol as designed, even if the development team did not fully anticipate all the consequences of setting parameters the way they are”. He reiterated this belief when pressed by Shin whether his actions were in line with the protocol’s intentions.

Eisenberg explained that the intent behind any protocol is often unclear. For instance, statements in documentation typically do not reflect what’s actually in the code. He added, “sometimes the code does what is intended, just what is intended isn’t what anyone wanted”. 

Eisenberg continued by saying that lending platforms are willing to lend at whatever a token’s current price is. This can also be determined by parameters of the protocol, whether they use the spot price, or an aggregate price, such as a time-weighted average price.

Only when prices do not reflect the definition set by the protocol, is it fair to say they are not in line with its intentions, Eisenberg said.

Very Nasty World Out There

While resembling similar DeFi exploits that have occurred in the past year, Eisenberg maintains his actions were merely a “highly profitable trading strategy“. Although he returned a significant portion of the funds to ensure “other users weren’t hurt,” Eisenberg does not claim to be a white hat hacker.

He said others who perform those actions are often seeking exploits, whereas he looks for arbitrage opportunities in particular.

Eisenberg also rejected the notion that keeping a significant portion of the funds was somehow a “bounty”. He said that profitable traders frequently face heated criticism. Eisenberg pointed to the example of crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried. The FTX founder notably made his fortune in crypto through arbitrate opportunities.

After Eisenberg took responsibility, a prominent investor suggested he use his talents to build something he could take pride in. While certainly possible, Eisenberg said that working towards a “building distinction” did not help in effectively running a business. 

In fact, he had made such an effort previously with an e-commerce business that made $2 million annually. However, Eisenberg related that unfair practices by competitors had effectively compromised that enterprise.

This seems to have hardened Eisenberg to become much more shrewd in his dealings. “Very nasty world out there,” he said.

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