Joel Ortiz, a 20-year-old hacker pleads guilty for stealing $5 million in cryptocurrency from 40 victims via the means of SIM swapping. He went on to accept the plea deal and will now serve 10 years in prison.
As reported by Motherboard, a division of news outlet VICE, on Feb 1, the hacker accepted the plea deal last week and will be officially sentenced on Mar 14. The authorities reportedly claims that Ortiz is the first individual convicted of a crime for SIM swapping.
The publishing quoted Samy Tarazi, one of the agents who investigated Ortiz :
“We think justice has been served. And hopefully, this is a strong message to that community.”
What is Sim swapping
An increasingly popular technique via which the criminals could steal fiat, crypto, and even social media usernames and handles, that are subsequently sold on a black market. Notably, the Instagram account “@t” reportedly sold for $40,000 in Bitcoin (BTC).
In SIM swapping, the hackers pose as their target and call a telecoms company. Here they claim that their SIM card has been lost, so they would prefer porting their number to a new card. By telecoms company believes the hackers as they readily provide details such as the target’s social security numbers or addresses.
Subsequently, the phone company transfers the number to a new SIM. After which the criminals could bypass the two-step authentication measures for accounts by using the phone as a recovery method. One of the hackers told the publishing:
“With someone’s phone number you can get into every account they own within minutes and they can’t do anything about it.”
For the past few years, crypto related crimes seem to be on a high, however, getting as smart as the criminals, the authorities have had managed to crack down some of these crimes. Just recently the mastermind behind the ‘Big Bitcoin Heist’ was sentenced for massive crypto mining rig theft by the Indonesian police. The European Police caught hold of the Hacker responsible for stealing 10 Million Euro Worth of IOTA.