A cryptocurrency thief who used the so-called SIM-swapping technique to hijack target mobile phone accounts and rob victims of $20 million has been jailed for three years.
Anthony Faulk, 26, of Pennsylvania, was handed the custodial sentence by a federal court in California and ordered to pay back nearly $3 million in goods and funds — his share of the digital loot he and his criminal associates stole from more than a dozen cryptocurrency owners.
Faulk and his accomplices, Ahman Hared and Matthew Ditman, duped mobile phone companies into handing them control of victims’ cellphone numbers. They then used that access to hack into email and other victim accounts, cleaning them out of millions’ worth of cryptocurrency and digital assets.
“Faulk also admitted that, in addition to transferring cryptocurrencies, the co-conspirators contacted some of their victims by telephone and threatened to compromise further accounts unless the victims paid additional money to the fraudsters,” said the US Department of Justice (DoJ), announcing the sentencing on August 18th.
Faulk entered a guilty plea in March, under which he confessed to “fraud, deception, and social engineering techniques” to persuade cellphone service providers to port numbers from SIM cards possessed by victims to those in devices used by him and his fellow conmen.
“Once in possession of the illegally obtained information, members of the conspiracy reset passwords of their victims’ email, electronic storage, and other accounts,” said the DoJ.
This enabled Faulk, aka “shade”; Hared, aka “winblo”; and Ditman, aka “lord crump” to drain the targeted cryptocurrency wallets, which were effectively rendered under their control.
Faulk has been ordered to pay back more than $2.8 million to 11 of his victims, and he and his associates will forfeit a $1 million home in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, three JP Morgan Chase accounts holding more than $18 million in total, luxury cars, diamond jewelry, and other expensive accoutrements.
The haul demonstrates just how lucrative cybercrime can be — assuming that one gets away with it, of course.
Hared and Ditman have been separately charged, with their sentencing set for August 31st and October 12th respectively.
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