SIM swap hacks are becoming very common in the cryptocurrency space. In a recent case, a hacker was able to steal cryptocurrency worth $1 million from a San Francisco-based victim. The 21-year-old hacker also hacked into the phones of numerous Silicon Valley executives.
In this new kind of hack, the phone number of a person is duplicated to get access to their data and financial records and steal money. Many of the hacks have targeted crypto holdings.
When the Phone Lost Connection
Robert Ross based in San Francisco noticed on October 26 that his phone had lost signal. He contacted his service provider AT&T, but before something could be done, a hacker had stolen over $1 million from his accounts on Gemini and Coinbase cryptocurrency exchanges.
According to Santa Clara officials, a 21-year-old man called Nicholas Truglia was behind the crimes. The prosecutors filed a felony complaint against him in the California state court, stating that Truglia had also targeted several Silicon Valley executives but was not able to hack into their accounts. He has been charged with 21 counts, including fraud, identify thefts, embezzlement, and crimes that “involve a pattern of related felony conduct.”
Deputy district attorney of Santa Clara County Erin West said:
“It’s a whole new wave of crime. It’s a new way of stealing of money: They target people that they believe to have cryptocurrency.”
How Were the Funds Stolen?
Ross had been saving money to pay for his daughter’s college. He stored the funds in US dollars in two cryptocurrency exchange accounts. Truglia got hold of the money using Ross’ phone number and converted it into cryptocurrency, before moving them into his account. The local officials searched Truglia’s 42nd Street apartment in Manhattan last week and recovered $300,000 from a computer hard drive. However, the rest of the funds are difficult to track.
Other victims have also been named in the court papers including a hedge fund executive Myles Danielson, co-founder of SMBX Gabrielle Katsnelson and 0Chain CEO Saswata Basu. Truglia agreed for extradition and will be picked up in December, after which a court date will be set.
This is not the first time that AT&T users have been hacked. The company was sued for $224 million by California-based Michael Terpin who said that he was hacked of $24 million worth of cryptocurrency due to a SIM swap, accusing the company of negligence.