A Dublin man is on the verge of spending the better part of his life behind bars for allegedly stealing more than $2 million worth of cryptocurrencies via sim swap hacks.
According to a Tuesday report, the Ireland Police is preparing an investigation file against 20 year old Connor Freeman, who is accused and wanted by the United States authorities for crimes involving hacking and crypto theft.
Freeman was arrested in May, 2019 at his home residence in Glenageary Court, Dun Laoghaire, based on a warrant issued by the US Department of Justice.
The warrant issued by the US authorities revealed that Mr. Freeman had participated in four attacks by the group which resulted in the theft of $2,187,977 worth of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Stealing cryptocurrencies with sim swap
The accused is allegedly a member of an online group known as “The Community,” which conspired to hack and steal cryptocurrencies from their targets between the months of February and May 2018.
The group is reportedly specialized in a technique known as ” SIM Swapping” where they steal the identities of their targets by gaining control of their phone numbers, thus, having access to their email and other online accounts with the sole purpose of stealing the target’s crypto assets.
A member of the group was arrested in the Eastern District of Michigan in May 2018 and he had cooperated with the authorities, granting them access to his computers and the records of all his online chats.
A closer examination of these chats had revealed an individual who identified himself as “Conor.” This individual played a significant role in several attacks by the group.
This was further investigated and it was discovered that the “Conor” in those chats and Conor Freeman were one and the same. It was substantiated by linking the IP addresses used by “Conor” to an Irish mobile phone and residential internet service provider.
Siobhan Ni Chulachain, for the Minister of Justice, had told the court on Tuesday that the state was seeking for a six weeks adjournment of the case as a result of a domestic prosecution file that is being prepared against Mr. Freeman.
She said, “we are awaiting development on that front before a decision is taken against the substantive case before the court.” The Judge granted this request, and the case was adjourned till 22nd June.
108 years in prison
Mr. Freeman is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of aiding and abetting wire fraud, and four counts of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft.
The first five counts carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison each while the remaining four counts carry a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison. Therefore, if he is to be convicted in the United States, Mr. Freeman will face up to 108 years in prison.
Sim swapping and identify theft are prevalent among hackers, and many crypto users lost their funds via such means. Late last year, a 19-year-old Californian man was arrested for stealing cryptocurrency worth more than $1 million via a SIM swapping scam.
In another incident, leading American telecommunication giant, AT&T Inc. was reportedly sued by popular Bitcoin entrepreneur, Michael Terpin, for aiding and abetting a sim swap hack that led to the theft of his cryptocurrencies worth around USD 24 million.