A U.S. digital currency investor has sued a New York teen for $71 million in damages for allegedly stealing digital currencies in a SIM swap incident three years ago. The investor, Michael Terpin, claimed that the teenager was the leader of a cybercrime ring that cleaned out his digital currency wallets in 2018.
The defendant, Ellis Pinsky, is a high school senior living in Irvington, New York, Reuters reports. According to the lawsuit, Pinsky and his group allegedly stole $23.8 million worth of digital currencies from Terpin in January, 2018. At the time, Pinsky was only 15.
“On the surface, Pinsky is an ‘All American Boy. The tables are now turned,” says Terpin in the lawsuit he filed in a White Plains, New York federal court. He is seeking $71.4 million from the alleged SIM swap perpetrator, triple the value of the damage he incurred.
Terpin alleged that Pinsky led a gang of cybercriminals who organized SIM swaps and then went on to take charge of their victims’ digital currency wallets. He accused the teen of violating federal laws against computer fraud and racketeering.
Terpin, who is the founder of blockchain investment firm BitAngels, has gone down this road before. He filed a lawsuit against AT&T in August 2018 for security lapses that led to the loss of $23.8 million worth of digital currencies. He demanded $224 million in damages from the telecoms giant. He alleged that AT&T personnel colluded with the criminals, but the company did nothing to stop them.
The case has dragged on since then, with AT&T fighting back and asking the court to dismiss it. AT&T claimed that Terpin couldn’t prove that it was complacent in the SIM swap. The presiding judge is still considering the motion to dismiss according to court documents seen by Reuters.
In another lawsuit, Terpin was awarded $75.8 million after a California court sided with him against a man who stole his digital currencies. The defendant, Nicholas Truglia, was found guilty of using a SIM swap to take over Terpin’s digital currency wallet and taking off with $24 million. Truglia allegedly worked with the New York teenager to steal the digital currencies.
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