20 Year Old Faces Charges for Stealing in Crypto Via Sim Jacking
Motherboard has obtained court documents related to the arrest of a 20-year-old student, Joel Ortiz from Boston who has been accused of stealing $5 million in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Ortiz and other currently unidentified accomplices stole cryptocurrency from roughly 40 victims through a technique known as sim jacking.
Ortiz was reportedly arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport while he was on the way to Europe with a Gucci bag reportedly bought using the stolen money. The 20-year-old now faces 28 charges against him including 13 counts of hacking, 13 counts of identity theft and 2 counts of grand theft. He is currently in jail awaiting his plea hearing on August 9. His bail has been set at $1 million.
According to Motherboard, this is the first reported instance of sim jacking being used in cryptocurrency related thefts. Motherboard explained sim jacking as follows,
SIM swapping consists of tricking a provider like AT&T or T-Mobile into transferring the target’s phone number to a SIM card controlled by the criminal. Once they get the phone number, fraudsters can leverage it to reset the victims’ passwords and break into their online accounts (cryptocurrency accounts are common targets.) In some cases, this works even if the accounts are protected by two-factor authentication.
Ortiz and his to-be-identified accomplices were attendees of the Consensus conference in New York City in May. One anonymous conference attendee said that he lost more than $1.5 million from one individual. The person reported,
I looked at my phone and it was dead.We were having a meeting and all of a sudden he says ‘Fuck my phone just stopped working. The individual added that his friend later texted him.My fucking SIM got hacked.
According to court documents, Ortiz took control of this individual’s mobile phone number, reset his Gmail password and gained access to his cryptocurrency accounts. When the individual went to the AT&T store to get his number back, it was too late.
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