20-Year-Old Hacker to Spend 10 Years in Prison for Stealing $5 Million in Cryptocurrency

Joel Ortiz, an alleged hacker will be spending 10 years in prison after accepting a plea bargain. The 20-year-old stole the identity of about 40 people through SIM swapping, and this enabled him to amass $5 million worth of cryptocurrencies, reports a media outlet on February 1.

Ortiz to Spend 10 Years in Prison for SIM Swap Attack

Per the report, Joel Ortiz, a college student will be spending 10 years in jail after accepting a plea deal. The accused is said to have stolen $5 million in cryptocurrency after hijacking the identity of about 40 people. In the same vein, the authorities believe that he is the first person to face the full force of the law for crimes relating to SIM swapping.
SIM swapping is also known as “port out scam”, and it is a method used by hackers to take control of a person’s phone number. It involves tricking the victim’s mobile carrier to switch their number to a new one owned by the hacker. As a result, access to email, cryptocurrency exchanges, as well as social media accounts can be gained.

Ortiz Was First Arrested in July 2018

Before this development, Ortiz was arrested in July 2018 at Los Angeles International Airport while on his way to Europe. He was said to be among a group that had stolen 40 phone numbers from victims through the process of port out scam. Among these numbers, were those owned by people in the crypto and blockchain industry.

As a consequence, one of his victims, an entrepreneur lost $1.5 million through the attack. According to the victim, $1 million were the funds raised through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). The anonymous person also added that their phone went dead all of a sudden and then the password to their Gmail account was changed. As such, this granted the accused access to his online wallet.

Ortiz Arrests to Serve as a Deterrent to Others

The authorities, on the other hand, were quick to note that Ortiz’s arrest will serve as a deterrent to others. Erin West, the Deputy District Attorney in Santa Clara County, California, said:

Each arrest that we made sent shockwaves through that community…That hey weren’t safe in their basement, they weren’t safe in their room in their mom’s house, that they were being tracked down and arrested—one by one”.

BTCNN on January 20 reported that Michael Terpin, a Senior Adviser at Alphabit Fund, who was also a victim of a SIM swap attack had filed charges against Nicholas Truglia, an alleged SIM hijacker. On January 24, it was also reported that the U.K authorities had arrested a man who allegedly stole €10 Million worth of IOTA cryptocurrency.

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