Tech

Neil Mathew

More than $50M in crypto stolen from US wallets in last 15 months

Cybersecurity is one of the most widely-discussed issues when it comes to global business today. While there are many data breaches and hacks with respect to some of the world’s largest and most influential companies, the fact is that many believe that the cryptocurrency markets are much more vulnerable when it comes to funds being stolen than traditional finance markets. In keeping with that thought, it appears as though hackers have been able to steal somewhere around $50 million from U.S. personal wallets in the past 15 months, a police officer told the New York Post.

The thefts involved five hackers all aged between 18 and 26, who have been charged with the cybercrimes, according to the report. Interestingly enough, the hackers were able to be traced thanks to their cell phone activity, according to Sami Tarazi, a leading “cyber cop.” Tarazi leads the Regional Enforcement Allied Computer Team, or REACT, Silicon Valley’s well-known cybercrime law enforcement agency.

An 18-year-old, identified as Joel Ortiz, was arrested after he boasted about Las Vegas helicopter tours, which helped law enforcement narrow down his identity. He was arrested in Boston and sentenced to 10 years in jail. Tarazi believes Ortiz has stolen somewhere in the realm of $15 million in cryptocurrency. Another individual by the name of Nicolas Truglia was charged with stealing $1 million in cryptocurrency, and used the “SIM-swapping” tactic to hack into the phones of several prominent Silicon Valley executives. He is also being sued by Michael Terpin, 62, for stealing millions more in digital tokens, as well.

SIM-swapping is a relatively simple tactic where a hacker is able to take over phone numbers by deceiving wireless carriers and/or wireless carrier employees, and begin receiving your texts. After this is completed, the cybercriminal then notifies Google that they have “forgotten their password”. Many hackers have been able to then move large amounts of cryptocurrency from the victims’ wallets after receiving access to their Google accounts.

Interestingly enough, it is believed that many have been taught these tactics on online gaming forums. Many of these individuals previously hacked Twitter accounts to then re-sell for large amounts of money. Obviously, with the rise of interest in cryptocurrency, they have used these same tactics to target those with large amounts of cryptocurrency.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as SegWitCoin BTC coins. Altcoins, which value privacy, anonymity, and distance from government intervention, are referenced as dark coins.

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