Canadian teen charged with $50M crypto SIM swap scheme

A Canadian teenager has been charged with the theft of over $50 million worth of cryptocurrencies in a SIM swap scheme. The suspect and his gang are alleged to have targeted over a dozen victims in the U.S and Canada. He was arrested in November last year, but later released on bail.

Sammy Bensaci is alleged to be a key member of a crime ring that targets crypto personalities and steals their digital assets through SIM swapping. The 18-year-old Montreal resident, who is described by those who know him as discreet and a computer nerd, perpetrated the crimes in the spring of 2018.

Lieutenant Hugo Fournier, the spokesperson for the Canadian police force revealed that Bensaci was “responsible for the theft of $50 million from our neighbors to the south and $300,000 in Canada.”

According to Canadian outlet La Presse, the amount stolen in Canada could be much higher than the authorities revealed. Citing a source who requested anonymity, the outlet claims that one victim from Canada lost $2.3 million to this scheme.

Bensaci and his gang targeted over a dozen victims, all of whom had attended the Consensus Conference in New York. The criminals used the event to spot their victims as most of the attendants had sizable crypto holdings.

The police arrested Bensaci in November last year in Victoria, British Columbia. They acted on a tip from the U.S Secret Service. They charged him with fraudulently obtaining computer service, identity fraud, committing fraud over $5,000 and illegally accessing computer data. A month later, the court released him on a $200,000 bail and ordered him to live with his parents in Montreal until his next hearing. He also had to surrender his passport.

While at the house, Bensaci is prohibited from using any device capable of accessing the internet, including phones, computers and gaming devices. He’s also prohibited from trading or using any form of crypto.

One of the alleged victims of the SIM swap scheme is Don Tapscott, a renowned crypto investor who currently heads the Blockchain Research Institute. Tapscott has spoken at several crypto events and is also the author of ‘Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World.’

Just a month ago, yet another teenager was arrested for a similar crime in Brooklyn, New York. 19-year-old Yousef Selassie had stolen over $1 million from 75 victims through SIM swapping. Selassie’s operation was uniquely simple, with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr claiming that he had managed to steal from all those victims “with just an iPhone and a computer.”

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