US student who swapped SIMs to steal $5m in cryptocurrency pleads guilty

bitcoin crypto sim swapping unsplash

A US student could face more than 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty on Friday to stealing $5-million in cryptocurrency, reported Motherboard.

Joel Ortiz, a 20-year-old California native, SIM swapped the numbers of around 40 victims to gain access to their cryptocurrency wallets.

A number of services, even with two-factor authentication enabled, request users for a phone number for additional security. But, ironically, this additional security barrier can weaken the others if another person discovers and swaps your number to another SIM card.

It’s the loophole the Ortiz, and a number of others in the US, have reportedly used to swindle more than $15-million in the past year.

In South Africa, similar tactics — including OTP phishing — have been used to gain access to bank accounts and credit cards.

Motherboard noted that Ortiz has accepted a plea deal which will see him spend around 10 years in prison for his crime, however he has yet to be sentenced.

Feature image: André François McKenzie via Unsplash

Andy Walker, former editor


Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.