They say that crime doesn’t pay, but it sure can cost you a lot. That is the case for a New York man as a court awarded Michael Terpin $75.8 million as part of a civil judgment from a scheme to defraud him of his cryptocurrency assets.
According to a ruling in California Superior Court, Nicholas Truglia was ordered to pay Terpin the amount as part of both compensatory and punitive damages that resulted from cryptocurrency theft and fraud. The amount is considered to be one of the largest judgments awarded to an individual involved in a cryptocurrency case of this nature.
The incident began when the Manhattan resident swapped the SIM located in Terpin’s phone. This gave Truglia the ability to gain control over Terpin’s digital wallet.
Terpin sued both Truglia and AT&T, claiming that his service provider had been negligent, aiding Truglia to make the swap. “What AT&T did was like a hotel giving a thief with a fake ID a room key and a key to the room safe to steal jewelry in the safe from the rightful owner,” explained Terpin.
SIM swapping is becoming a pretty popular method to swipe funds. In February, Matthew Ditman and Ahmad Hared were charged with improperly representing themselves to gain access to the SIM information on a person’s phone that they were then able to use to gain access into that person’s cryptocurrency account. According to that complaint, the two were able to “induce representatives of cellphone service providers to provide information about the SIM cards.”
At the time of the theft, the 3 million tokens that Terpin owned were worth an estimated value of $23.8 million. Truglia was able to steal the tokens by convincing AT&T representatives that he had lost his passwords and could not access his account online. The company provided him with the information to gain access into Terpin’s accounts, so he was able to mirror the SIM chip and gain access into the accounts.
According to the complaint, other gang members were involved and could face civil penalties as well. His case against AT&T is still pending.
With digital currencies gaining in value, it is not surprising that these kinds of cases are becoming more prevalent. According to cybersecurity experts, over $50 million was stolen from personal wallets in the U.S. in the last 15 months alone. According to police, five hackers have been primarily responsible for the losses, and each has been charged with cyber crimes related to the thefts.
What kind of criminal charges Truglia has faced as part of the case has not been disclosed.
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