A 21 years old student, Joel Ortiz, has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment after he was convicted for stealing $7.5 Million in cryptocurrency through hacking of cell phones. Prosecutors announced Joel Ortiz jail term in Santa Clara on the 22nd April.
Joel Ortiz’s Crime
About 40 people were victims of Joel Ortiz heinous crime of stealing over $7.5 million through phone hacking. According to the press release of the judiciary, Ortiz spent ten thousand a time at night clubs in Los Angeles, then hired a helicopter to fly him and his friends to a music festival and bought top-end Gucci clothes and luggage.
According to the prosecutors, Ortiz is a prolific SIM swapper that targets victims to steal cryptocurrency and to take over social media accounts with the goal of selling them for bitcoin (BTC). Also, prosecutors noted that In May 2018, one cryptocurrency entrepreneur in Cupertino lost $5.2 million in a matter of minutes.
Last year at Los Angeles international airport, Ortiz was detained, and the investigators noted that only about $400,000 was recovered from him out of the stolen fund. The rest is believed to have been spent or hidden. Prosecutor Erin West explained that “These are not Robin Hoods. 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.”
Joel Ortiz pleaded guilty to theft and accepted ten years plea deal in February. He has been sentenced on April 19 by a judge after two hearings where victims described the financial devastation caused by his crimes.
Stealing Crypto Through Phone Hacking
Joel Ortiz is one of the first to be convicted for stealing cryptocurrency through phone hacking. The heinous crime has become prominent in recent time as the crypto industry sees growth.
Stealing crypto through phone hacking often requires illegal SIM swaps which involve duping phone companies to switching cell phones number to a new SIM card by providing stolen addresses and social security numbers. Afterwards, hackers then circumvent two-step authentication measures that are designed to keep crypto safe. This heinous scheme has made many people victims of hackers in recent.
To prevent this or to avoid being a victim of hackers, crypto users need to be careful of the information they share on social media as well as security conscious with their crypto assets. Perhaps, use cold storage more to avoid fallen victim of online access to crypto wallets.