Authorities Arrest Alleged SIM Swapper for $1 Million Heist

Authorities Arrest Alleged SIM Swapper for $1 Million Heist

State and federal authorities have arrested 21-year-old Nicholas Truglia on charges of hijacking Silicon Valley executives’ phone numbers to accrue cryptocurrency. The alleged Manhattan SIM swapper now faces 21 felony counts related to identity theft and hacking.

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Alleged Sim Swapping Leads to $1 Million Theft

Authorities have accused Truglia of using the increasingly popular hacking technique known as SIM swapping to reportedly steal $1 million USD that he thereafter converted to cryptocurrency. 

SIM swapping, also known as a “port out scam,” is a scheme wherein a hacker convinces mobile carriers to redirect access of a victim’s phone number to another SIM card under the hacker’s control.

SIM swappers beware: law enforcement in the U.S. is on the lookout.

The technique is leveraged to infiltrate cellphones in a bid to gain access over victims’ “hot” cryptocurrency wallets.  

Applying the same technique, Truglia allegedly converted into cryptocurrency $500,000 dollars from San Francisco-based angel investor Robert Ross’s Coinbase account and another $500,000 from Ross’s Gemini account in October 2018. 

Truglia also reportedly hijacked phone numbers belonging to other Bay Area executives including Hall Capital Partners VP Myles Danielsen, SMBX Co-Founder Gabrielle Katsnelson, and 0Chain CEO Saswata Basu. No funds were compromised from these executives.

Expect More Arrests, More Lawsuits

The takedown happened two weeks after Ross’s phone was first compromised, whereupon state and federal agents arrested Truglia in his apartment in Manhattan, New York.

At the time of the arrest, investigators recovered $300,000 and a cryptocurrency hardware wallet. Truglia, a self-proclaimed Harvard University attendee, now faces 21 felony charges associated with identity theft, grand theft, and computer hacking.

Moreover, investigators maintain Truglia was a member of a larger SIM swapper team, which now may be in legal crosshairs.

“We don’t care where you’re located, we are a task force based in Silicon Valley, and our reach is nationwide,” Santa Clara Superior Court Deputy District Attorney Erin West noted.

With that said, West and others in law enforcement are set to face rising SIM swapper incidences, at least until major telecom companies find better processes for mitigating the attack vector.

Notably, cryptocurrency entrepreneur Michael Terpin launched a $224 million lawsuit against telecom powerhouse AT&T in August 2018, alleging the company didn’t do enough to prevent a SIM swap that lost him 3 million tokens.

More lawsuits and more arrests are likely coming in the interim.

Is SIM swapping a major concern for crypto enthusiasts? Share your views in the comments section.

Images via Pixabay

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