After Pleading Guilty to $5 Million Crypto Theft, SIM Swap Hacker Receives 10-Year Jail Sentence

Joel Ortiz is just 20 years old, but he already knows what he will be doing with the next ten years of his life – jail time. Ortiz was recently the thief of $5 million in cryptocurrency, which he took from 40 separate victims by swapping out their SIM cards.

However, he did not get very far, as he was arrested for the theft. Rather than going through the hassle of a trial and severe consequences imposed by a jury, he chose to accept his fate and a plea deal for less time.

The plea deal was accepted last week, according to Deputy District Director Eric West of Santa Clara County, California. The sentencing will not officially commence until March 14th, but the local authorities made a point to say that no other individual has been convicted for such a crime. One of the investigators, Samy Tarazi, said,

“We think justice has been served. And hopefully, this is a strong message to that community.”

While some hackers choose to implant malware through purely digital sources, some thieves choose a more tangible route, swapping SIM cards to allow the criminal to steal fiat, crypto, social media usernames, and other details that can be sold for a big payday on the black market. One Instagram account was sold in Bitcoin for about $40,000.

SIM swapping requires hackers to pose as their intended source of information and call a telecoms company. In the call, they claim that their SIM card was lost, and that their number needs to be set up with a new card. With social security numbers and other details, it is quite easy for a criminal to convince the applicable company of their false identity.

After the number is transferred, hackers pass the two-factor authentication with ease. In the last year, authorities have luckily cracked down on this type of crime, but it is still frequent.

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