$20 million worth of cryptocurrencies stolen by SIM Hijacking

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by | 3rd August 2018 | 0 comments

As per reports, a 20-year-old college student from Boston has been arrested by The US authorities. The 20-year-old Joel Ortiz was accused of stealing millions of dollars’ worth of digital currency by hacking into the victims’ phones.

A court document obtained by Motherboard showed that Joel Ortiz along with a few unnamed accomplices reportedly hacked nearly 40 phone numbers that belonged to crypto traders and investors. And in the process Joel and his accomplices managed to steal nearly $5 million in Bitcoin (BTC) and other virtual currencies.

According to the court document, “This marks the very first case that has been officially filed against someone who reportedly made use of the increasingly popular technique known as SIM hijacking or  SIM swapping to steal bitcoin (BTC), different cryptocurrencies, and also social media accounts.”

Apparently, SIM hijacking can be done on the victim’s phone number once the hacker gets access to the victim’s SIM card, which in turn gives access to sensitive information, like the users’ two-factor authentication (2FA) codes. Once the criminals have access to this vital information, they can then log into the victim’s crypto accounts, change their passwords and steal their funds.

Authorities have also reportedly claimed that this technique had been used during the Consensus Conference which was held in New York back in May, in which nearly $1.5 million worth of cryptocurrency was stolen. The court papers also revealed that Ortiz has also been linked to a number of other attacks which occurred back in  February and March 2018.

According to the report published by Motherboard, One of the hacked crypto owners stated that he had lost nearly $1 million in one of the SIM-hacking incidents. In addition to that, Motherboard also stated that Ortiz reportedly hacked into a tech executive’s phone and texted his daughter: “TELL YOUR DAD TO GIVE US BITCOIN”.

Warrants have been issued to the cryptocurrency exchanges which were used by Ortiz, they include, Bittrex, Binance, and Coinbase. According to the report, Ortiz used these platforms to move $1 million worth of different cryptocurrencies. So far, the authorities have managed to seize $250,000 in digital money from Ortiz, however, they haven’t discovered the location of the remaining stolen funds.

Authorities arrested Ortiz on July 12 at Los Angeles International Airport where he was on the verge of boarding a plane to Europe. Currently the 20-year-old is awaiting Ortiz his plea hearing which is on August 9.

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