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Crypto Theft: 10 Years in Jail for Stealing $7.5 Mln in Crypto for ‘Tech Savvy’ Student

Tue, 04/23/2019 - 09:36
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Alex Dovbnya
?A 21-year-old US student has been charged with stealing more than $7.5 mln through SIM-swapping hack?
Crypto Theft: 10 Years in Jail for Stealing $7.5 Mln in Crypto for ‘Tech Savvy’ Student
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On Monday, Apr. 22, the District Attorney’s Office in Santa Clara County made an announcement regarding 21-year-old Joel Ortiz. The man had hacked the crypto wallets located on mobile phones of over 40 US citizens.

An ill use of high cyber skills

As per the announcement, Joel Ortiz is a skilled SIM swapper. In May last year, he managed to steal over $5 mln from a Californian entrepreneur working with crypto, taking just several minutes to do that.

The student spent the ill-gotten money on club parties, expensive clothes, etc, and even hired a helicopter to get to a music festival.

Skilled hacker got skillfully arrested

The man was detained in LA at the International Airport in 2018. He did not argue against the charge regarding ten felony thefts he had committed earlier.

As an outcome of two hearings, at the end of last week, the court gave Ortiz a verdict, sentencing him to ten years in prison. He will be one of the first people to be doing jail time for stealing digital coins through swapping SIM cards.

The prosecutor, Erin West, commented that modern cyber-criminals are far from the classical Robin Hood and that computers in their hands turn into guns which they use to steal honestly earned money from families, depriving them of chances to pay their mortgage or send children to college.

When Ortiz was arrested, the law-enforcement group investigating IT crimes managed to confiscate only $400,000. The rest of the money was gone – either spent or hidden well, as per the Attorney’s Office.

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SIM card swaps

Hacks through SIM card swapping is a recently emerged type of a hacker attack when culprits make a clone of a SIM card and access a crypto account on a smartphone. This type of crypto stealing is becoming more and more popular as of late.

Earlier in 2019, the New York Supreme Court gave a formal charge to a 20-year-old man in Ohio State for stealing the crypto of over 50 digital investors across the country using SIM swaps.

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About the author

Alex Dovbnya (aka AlexMorris) is a cryptocurrency expert, trader and journalist with extensive experience of covering everything related to the burgeoning industry — from price analysis to Blockchain disruption. Alex authored more than 1,000 stories for U.Today, CryptoComes and other fintech media outlets. He’s particularly interested in regulatory trends around the globe that are shaping the future of digital assets, can be contacted at