Two Canadian citizens have been handed 2-year jail terms after being found guilty of stealing Bitcoins from unsuspecting social media users. According to a March 17 press release published by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ), the two suspects – named Karanjit Khatar and Jagroop Khatkar – got 24-month prison term sentences, as all as a supervised release spanning 3 years, for their criminal activity.
Bogus Customer Service
Both were found to have run a crypto scam on Twitter in 2017, at the height of the last Bitcoin rally. At the time, they allegedly impersonated customer service representatives from BitBTC, a crypto exchange service based out of Hong Kong. They went as far as creating a fake handle (@HitBTCAssist), thus responding to a request that was posted to the real account of the exchange concerning the withdrawal processes for cryptocurrencies.
The victim was allegedly a crypto investor from Oregon, and the scammers were able to convince him to send sensitive information concerning his Email address and accounts that he had with HitBTC and Kraken (another crypto exchange). Armed with all the information they needed, they went on to milk the suspect of all his 23.2 Bitcoins, transferring the entire thing to Karanjit’s wallet.
The stolen Bitcoins were reportedly worth about $130,000 at the time of the crime, and the scammers went on to split their loot 50-50. They sold the Bitcoins eventually, and used their gains to fund extravagant lifestyles.
The DoJ reported that within two days of their operation, Karanjit Khatkar had spent almost $40,000 on a Mercedes Benz vehicle, while also visiting some premium Las Vegas casinos and spending his loot at the gambling tables.
He was eventually arrested at Karanjite McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on July 18, 2019, while his accomplice was also apprehended after voluntarily attending his arraignment. Both men were eventually charged with money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and they pleaded guilty last December. Along with their prison sentences, they’ve also agreed to pay $184,511 in restitution fees.
Impersonation Scams are Still Rampant
Impersonation scams aren’t entirely new to the crypto space. While they’re the bedrock of the classic SIM swapping operation, some people have also found innovative means of masquerading to be what they’re not in order to win trust and profit of the ignorance of their victims.
Canada has had to deal with its fair share of these as well. Last October, local news medium The Voice reported that several fraudsters have begun to impersonate the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the Vancouver Police Department claiming that their victims will need to make crypto payments to avoid a possible jail term.
As the report confirmed, these fraudsters will call their victims and especially claim to be from the CRA, then ask the victims to provide the number of their police department. When that is done, victims get a separate call from another individual who claims to be a police officer. The fake office goes on to claim that the victims’ social justice numbers have been used to create credit card accounts, and that they’re owing balances.
They’ll go on to ask them to make crypto payments, threatening possible jail term if they don’t.