American telecommunications and Internet giant AT&T has once again found itself embroiled in a cryptocurrency SIM swapping case, after it was sued by separate businessmen for giving their details to hackers. On October 17, popular author and artist Seth Shapiro filed court documents against the telecommunications giant, claiming that the company had intentionally given access to his SIM card to hackers.
In the documents, Shapiro, who currently works as the Head of Strategy at VideoCoin, complained to the United States District Court for the Central District of California that the hackers were able to steal a significant amount of information, including his cryptocurrency wallet passwords.
A treasure trove to steal from
The two-time Emmy winner was said to have had accounts on several exchanges, including Livecoin, HitBTC, Coinbase, Cryptopia, Bitfinexc, Liqui, and Bittrex. By successfully hacking his SIM in May 2018, the attackers were provided unencumbered access to all these wallets, stealing about $1.8 million in crypto in the process.
The document added, “By utilizing their control over Mr. Shapiro’s AT&T cell phone number—and the control of additional accounts (such as his email) secured through that number by utilizing two factor authentication—these third-party hackers were able to access Mr. Shapiro’s accounts on various cryptocurrency exchange platforms, including the accounts he controlled on behalf of his business venture.”
The suit also claimed that two Tucson-based former AT&T workers had helped orchestrate the theft. The men, identified as Robert Jack and Jarrett White, were said to have gotten $585.25 and $4,300 respectively for their involvement, which included providing confidential information to the hacking group.
Some notable links between AT&T’s plaintiffs
The hackers also reportedly carried out similar attacks against two other crypto professionals; Chris Kitze and Fiorenzi Villani, and this is where things get a tad interesting. As it turns out, while Villani and Kitze weren’t mentioned in Shapiro’s lawsuit, all three men have been identified as partners in several cryptocurrency PR companies and investment funds.
In addition to their professional affiliations, the men are also said to be attending the Consensus Blockchain Conference, which is organized by Michael Terpin; another man who has been involved in a legal battle against AT&T after he lost $23.8 million in a SIM swapping operation as well.
In his lawsuit, which was filed on August 15, 2018, Terpin accused AT&T employees of being complicit in two separate SIM swapping attacks against him within seven months, adding that while AT&T had been aware of the fact that some of its employees were actively cooperating with hackers to exploit customers, the company hadn’t improved its security measures.
According to the suit, Terpin sought restitution for his $23.8 million loss, and $200 million in punitive damages. Shapiro, Kitze, and Terpin are all members of Pro Top Company Services, a crypto advertising company based out of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Villain and Terpin are partners in the Transform GROUP, a public relations company.