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US Indicts 19-Year-Old for Stealing Over $1 Million in Crypto

US authorities have indicted a man for stealing over $1 million in digital currencies using the SIM swapping technique.

According to Wednesday’s announcement by the Manhattan district attorney, Yousef Selassie, a 19-year old man, stole the identity of at least 75 victims to steal the cryptocurrencies.

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Commenting on the case, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Manhattan district attorney, said: “From his Brooklyn apartment, this defendant accessed accounts belonging to 75 victims in 20 different states.”

“As alleged, in just 4 months he drained his victims of more than $1 million in cryptocurrency with little more than an iPhone and computer. This is the third major SIM-swapping case my Office has brought in recent months, and it won’t be the last.”

SIM swapping – a widely used technique by scammers

In SIM swapping, the perpetrator gains control of the victim’s phone number and receive crucial passwords needed for accessing online accounts.

Per the authorities, Selassie particularly targeted victims active in crypto trading. He gained control of accounts, including Gmail, Yahoo, and Dropbox, and in some cases even changed the passwords of the accounts to prevent the victims from regaining control.

Filed in the state’s Supreme Court, the attorney brought an array of charges including identity theft, grand larceny, computer trespass, computer tampering, and scheme to defraud against the accused.

Though platforms are promoting two-factor authentication, crimes using the SIM swap technique are still targeting people. Just last month, the US law enforcement arrested two for stealing $500,000 in crypto using a similar SIM swapping technique. The perpetrators of the EtherDelta hack also used the technique to gain access to the platform’s CEO’s digital accounts.

Meanwhile, a Florida-based law firm filed lawsuits against AT&T and T-Mobile, two major telecom providers, after multiple customers fell victim to a SIM swap hack, resulting in the theft of nearly $1.3 million in digital currencies

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