Teenager Arrested for $1 Million Crypto Sim Swap Thefts

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A teenager who allegedly stole a million dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency through sim swapping has been arrested in Corona, California. Yousef Selassie, 19, used the technique to take over the phones of 75 people across 20 different states earlier this year, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, swiping their cryptocurrency after gaining access.

Selassie Indicted on 87 Charges

Selassie is accused of transferring his victims’ phone numbers to his own iPhones through sim swapping, a process that involves convincing cell carriers to port phone numbers from one device to another, which enabled him to reset the users’ passwords and gain access to their email and cryptocurrency wallets, among other accounts.

This same method has been used to illegally obtain cryptocurrency from dozens of victims in the past, including a number of high profile cases. Authorities say that the stolen $1 million came from just two victims, although the fate of this cryptocurrency is not known.

Selassie was arrested December 5 and extradited to New York, where he appeared Wednesday at Manhattan Supreme Court, pleading not guilty to 87 counts of grand larceny, identity theft and other charges. When authorities searched Selassie’s Brooklyn and California residences they seized six iPhones, two Rolex watches, and a monogrammed Gucci wallet among other luxury items.

Victims Push for Change

Sim swapping has been one of the hot topics of 2019 in the crypto space, particularly after AT&T were held accountable in a multi-million-dollar sim swapping case in July, while T-Mobile were hit by a spate of sim swapping attacks the month prior. Sim swapping victim Michael Terpin, who blames insiders at AT&T for his loss of $24 million in cryptocurrency, called for increased awareness of the activity by cell phone providers and a ‘no-porting’ option on cell contracts.