Joel Ortiz, a Boston student was arrested by California police for allegedly stealing $5 million in Bitcoin (BTC-USD) and other cryptocurrencies. The 20-year-old stole crypto assets from around 40 victims using SIM jacking, a type of hacking technique. The report was recently revealed by Motherboard, a tech news website after it obtained the related court documents.
Oritz faces 28 charges
Ortiz along with his associates specifically targeted the people involved in blockchain and cryptocurrency field and hacked the crypto investors. Many of these victims attended the Consensus, a blockchain conference held in New York in May this year. The California police arrested the accused at the Los Angeles International Airport while he was traveling to Europe.
As per the report, the accused is facing 28 charges including the hacking of 13 accounts, theft of 13 accounts and two grand thefts. According to sources, it is the first time that someone has used the SIM jacking technique for stealing virtual currency. In this attack, the thief tricks the security system of the phone carrier and swaps the target number of a cell to a SIM Card. This card is controlled by the thief or his associates.
After swapping the target phone number, the fraudster then resets the password of the victim and gets an entry into the online cryptocurrency accounts of the victims. These fraudsters sometimes also break through the system of two-factor authentication of the target account.
Consensus Conference Attendee loses $1.5 million in SIM hijacking
The report says that one of the victims who attended the New York’s Consensus conference had to bear a loss of more than $1.5 million in this SIM hijacking. The court document says, “Ortiz took control of the entrepreneur’s cell phone number, reset his Gmail password and then gained access to his cryptocurrency account.” The entrepreneur said that when he looked at his cell phone it was dead. At present, Ortiz is in jail and his plea hearing is scheduled for August 9 with the bail amount set for $1 million.
Ortiz has also been found guilty of stealing passwords of social media accounts. Once hijacked, he would then sell valuable Twitter and Instagram accounts through the website OGUsers which is a marketplace on the internet for virtual goods.