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

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

Author | Andy Walker: Editor

Andy Walker: Editor
Camper by day, run-and-gunner by night, Andy prefers his toast like his coffee -- dark and crunchy. Specialising in spotting the next big Instagram cat star, Andy also dabbles in smartphone, gadget and game reviews over on Gearburn. More

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