After hijacking the victim’s phone numbers and using them to hack their crypto accounts, a college student steals BTC worth $5 million. Joel Ortiz and a few other culprits have been reportedly arrested after they hacked 40 accounts belonging to crypto traders and investors. According to reports, Ortiz used a simple SIM-swapping technique that violated the security of the victim’s phone carrier and replaced the phone number with the one accessible to the criminals. He was then able to log into the victims’ accounts, change their passwords and steal their digital currency.
After the hacker got into the crypto accounts, Ortiz sent messages to the holder’s family which stated ‘TELL YOUR DAD TO GIVE US BITCOIN’ through iMessage. Officers were able to finally trace the malicious activities of the hackers and proceeded to send a warrant to the latter’s phone carrier, AT&T.
This warrant required the telecom company to submit a call record to the authorities, which eventually helped them to trace the dates on which Ortiz had hacked these crypto accounts. After an investigation, it was found out that the IMEI number of the hacker was of Ortiz’s Samsung smartphone.
To further track these activities, Google was also sent a warrant, for digging up the email addresses used in this incident, as well as Ortiz’s personal information. Then, it could be derived out that Ortiz had a part of various such attacks between February and March 2018. One of the victims had been attacked multiple times, meanwhile, Ortiz had changed his passwords and locked the user out of his accounts, also self-enabling a new two-factor authentication.
While going deeper into the criminal history of the culprit, evidence helped authorities gain $250,000 worth of cryptocurrency stolen by Ortiz. The police are currently unable to locate the rest of the amount but stated that they are still investigating the incident.
Ortiz was arrested on July 12th, one day after 28 charges were filed against him, at the Los Angeles International Airport. He was about to board a plane headed to Europe. Charges against him include 2 counts of grand theft, 13 counts of identity theft and fraud, and 13 counts of exploitative hacking.
This incident comes in the midst of a slow rising period of Bitcoin prices, which has certainly created a fuss in the market making the security shortcomings associated with the cryptocurrency explicit again.