Authorities in Santa Clara has handed 10-year imprisonment as punishment to a high school valedictorian who illegally accessed and stole cryptocurrencies through sim swapping.
According to the press release, the student, Joel Ortiz is a prolific SIM swapper who broke into victim’s account to loot their cryptocurrencies and maneuver their social media accounts on the bid to sell them for bitcoin.
21-year-old Ortiz breached over $7.5 million from 40 victims, and two others from Santa Clara County. Right in May of 2018, Ortiz confirmed he stole over $5.2 million within few minutes from a notable crypto entrepreneur in Cupertino.
The young hacker lavishly spent most of the stolen funds in night clubs at Los Angeles at the cost of $10,000 per night, hiring a helicopter for transport to a music festival with friends, and rest on expensive wears including a Gucci luggage.
He was arrested in 2018 by the REACT task force at the Los Angeles International Airport, as one among the 5 other hackers leading the rise in cellphone scam. The REACT investigators noted a total of $400,000 was recovered from Ortiz, probably the remains must have been spent or hidden.
Ortiz pleaded no discussion to 10 felony theft charges testified against him on January 24, 2019, and as such was sentenced on April 19 by SCC (Santa Clara County) Judge Edward Lee, following two hearings where the hurt victims disclosed damages incurred by the thefts.
Citing the prosecutor, Erin West, “These are not Robin Hoods,” such hackers can cause more devastations on resident’s live investments.
“These are crooks who use a computer instead of a gun. They are not just stealing some ethereal, experimental currency. They are stealing college funds, home mortgages, people’s financial lives,” he added further.
Under the management of the District Attorney’s Office, REACT task force comprises of law enforcement bodies in Bay Area agencies, which includes the SCC Sheriff’s Office, who collaborate to fight such tech menace in Silicon Valley.
The rise of sim swap crypto theft
Sim swap theft has become the easiest way for teenagers and young hackers to steal cryptocurrencies from unsuspecting individuals. Early this year, 20-year-old Dawson Bakies was accused of over 50 sim swap crypto theft in the US.
Similarly, Michael Terpin, a popular Bitcoin entrepreneur, sued AT&T, an American telecommunication giant in 2018 for aiding and abetting a sim swap cryptocurrency theft worth $24 million.
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