A 21-year old student from Boston has been sentenced to ten years in jail for hacking SIM-cards and stealing $7.5 million worth of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This was announced by the prosecutor in Santa Clara. It’s the first ever arrest in the United States for a SIM-swap scam.
Joel Ortiz stole cryptocurrencies from at least 40 victims. He spend parts of the money on visits to Los Angeles night clubs, a helicopter flight to a music festival, and high-end Gucci clothes and luggage. Only $400.000 has been found by the police. The rest has been hidden or spent.
SIM-card swapping often happens by tricking telephone companies into switching cell phone numbers to a new SIM card. Criminals use stolen addresses and social security numbers. From there, hackers can circumvent 2-step authentication measures that are set in place to keep crypto safe.
It’s likely we will see more criminals targeting mobile phones in order to steal crypto. Samsung and HTC are among the first major players in the mobile phone market to incorporate cryptocurrency wallets into their phones. Samsung even invested in a crypto wallet. Several crypto and blockchain companies have also made phones themselves, like Electroneum and Sirin Labs.
Also published on Medium.