Crypto-related SIM swapping is once again at the forefront of the industry, as another criminal has been picked up by authorities for swapping SIMs to steal bitcoin.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s (DA) Office published an order announcing that it had charged Yousef Selassie, a 19-year-old resident of Brooklyn, New York. The DA charged Selassie for using criminal techniques to gain access to the accounts of 75 people across the country. District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. explained that in just four months, Selassie was able to steal up to $1 million from his victims.
A 19-year-old Brooklyn man is accused of stealing more than $1 million in cryptocurrency in a “sophisticated ‘SIM swapping’” identity theft scheme. https://t.co/GlREZchJyp
— NBC New York (@NBCNewYork) December 19, 2019
Another Major SIM Swapping Case
In a sanctioned search of his residence, authorities were able to find several electronic devices, as well as a handwritten note containing a cryptocurrency wallet’s seed phrase and jewelry that Selassie is suspected of having purchased with his loot.
DA Vance explained that this is the third SIM swapping case to be brought to his office in recent months, adding that members of the public should be careful with their devices and accounts, and should immediately report any suspected SIM swapping cases to the police to help them put SIM swappers “out of business.”
Although not the most popular of cryptocurrency crimes, SIM swapping has been able to gain traction amongst criminals, particularly if they’re able to gain access to accounts owned by people of wealth.
For the folks in SG, please be on alert. Several reported sim swapping incident https://t.co/ABx3TfGURV
— mr.germskiller (@mrgermskiller) December 19, 2019
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Anthony Francis Faulk, a man from Pennsylvania, of a similar crime. In the press release to that effect, the DoJ explained that Faulk used “fraud, deception, and social engineering techniques” to persuade several telecommunications companies to transfer the numbers of his intended targets from their SIM cards to his.
Faulk and his co-conspirators (none of whom were explicitly mentioned in the press release) were alleged to have conducted their SIM swapping scheme between October 2016 and May 2018. Although the court documents didn’t show how much he and his partners in crime had made from the operation over two years, they did confirm that he was able to use his proceeds to purchase jewelry, a house, a Rolex watch, a Ferrari and three other luxury vehicles, as well as royalty rights to 20 songs.
Faulk was arrested on December 11, and he was summarily arraigned before a court in the Western District of Pennsylvania, where he was charged with one count of interstate communications with intent to extort and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The former count carries a maximum statutory sentence of 2 years and a $250,000 fine, while the latter has a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine attached to it.
If he does end up being convicted by the court, all of his property will also be subjected to criminal forfeiture. For now, he’s been temporarily released on a $250,000 bond, and will be appearing before the court on January 9, 2020.