19-Year-Old Selassie Charged With Stealing $1M Worth of Crypto Via SIM-Swap

A 19-year-old man has been arrested in California and charged with the theft of more than $1 million worth of cryptocurrency in a complex SIM-swapping scam.

According to a press release published by the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, on Dec. 18, the suspect, Yousef Selassie, allegedly carried out this fraudulent act by stealing the identities of about 75 people.

SIM-swapping is a scam involving the theft of victims’ phone numbers in a bid to access their online accounts and intercept phone calls and messages that are used for two-factor authentication security measures that contain security codes needed to reset passwords.

Selassie had reportedly accessed his victims’ online accounts, which included Gmail, Dropbox, and Yahoo accounts, to check if they had cryptocurrency accounts. In some cases, he had changed the passwords to these accounts so that his victims could no longer be in control of them.

Speaking on the development, Attorney Vance 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.

Selassie’s primary targets were individuals who worked in lucrative industries and, as such, were very active in the cryptocurrency space.

He had moved to another part of the country after his apartment in Brooklyn was searched, where the authorities discovered a handwritten note that linked him to many of the victims.

They also recovered several electronic devices and high-end items such as custom-made jewelry, which he had allegedly bought with the stolen funds. He was arrested shortly after that in Corona, California.

Per the announcement, Selassie was charged with identity theft, grand larceny, computer trespassing, and tampering, scheming to defraud, among other charges. 

In a similar case, a Pennsylvanian man was charged with a multi-million bitcoin fraud by the United States authorities earlier in September.

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