Singapore man indicted in US for $5M crypto mining fraud scheme

A Singaporean man has been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for his involvement in a crypto mining fraud scheme. The 29-year-old is alleged to have used stolen cloud computing power from major suppliers such as Amazon Web Service and Google Cloud to mine cryptos. The indictment lists 14 counts that include wire fraud and aggravated identity theft and if found guilty, he could spend over 30 years in prison.

Ho Jun Jia stole personal and financial information from of his victims, predominantly from the U.S., which he used to register accounts at online cloud computing service providers such as Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud, the indictment alleges. Ho then used the computing power to mine cryptocurrencies such as BTC, Ether and Litecoin.

He began his operation in late 2017, a time during which crypto prices were skyrocketing. He “employed social engineering techniques to trick providers into approving heightened privileges and benefits, including elevated levels of cloud computing services and deferred billing accommodations, and to deflect inquiries from service providers regarding questionable data usage and mounting unpaid subscription balances.”

Once he mined the cryptos, he sold them using accounts he had created at peer to peer crypto trading platforms such as LocalBitcoins and LocalEthereum. He allegedly also used social media platforms to solicit interest in crypto, exploiting the growing attention and popularity of cryptos.

Ho is alleged to have consumed more than $5 million in unpaid cloud computing services. He mainly targeted residents of California and Texas.

In a press release, the DoJ revealed one of Ho’s victim, “HO, allegedly used stolen identity and credit card information of a prominent California video-game developer to open cloud computing accounts at multiple U.S. cloud service providers, which he used to mine various cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.”

Ho was taken into custody by the Singapore Police Force a fortnight ago and since the U.S. has extradition agreements with Singapore, he is most likely to face trial in the U.S. soon. He could spend over three decades in prison if found guilty; 20 years for the wire fraud and ten years for the access device fraud. For the aggravated identity theft, he could face another two years, although this sentence would run parallel to any other sentence imposed in the case.

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