- Three individuals have been charged in the United States for hacking FTX and stealing $400 million in 2022
- Investigators attributed the security breach to a SIM swap attack on the platform
- The accused allegedly swapped the SIMs of 50 FTX users
Law enforcement agencies continue to make strides in solving crypto-linked cases with the now-defunct FTX exchange being the latest beneficiary of this advancement. Three malicious actors who stole $400 million from the FTX exchange in 2022 have been taken to court. According to court documents, the trio used SIM swap attacks to steal from 50 FTX users, a trick whose popularity is increasing with the United States securities watchdog, SEC, being among the latest victims.
Hernandez Impersonated an FTX Employee
The three have been identified as Emily Hernandez, Carter Rohn and Robert Powell from Colorado, Indiana and Illinois respectively. Prosecutors disclosed that Emily Hernandez impersonated an FTX employee, enabling the trio to steal the funds.
Powell was named as the main character with the others considered co-conspirators. Powell has been charged with “conspiracy to commit wire fraud, […] and conspiracy to commit aggravated identity theft and access device fraud.”
Although the court documents don’t explicitly name FTX as the affected company, an analysis by blockchain security platform Elliptic joined the dots revealing the exchange as the entity with the tag “Company-1” in the court filing.
Complicating the Tracking Process
Part of the funds were first deposited on Kraken with the rest being hopped between blockchains in an attempt to complicate the tracking process.
Malicious actors are increasingly using sim swap attacks to target crypto entities. In September last year, for example, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin suffered a SIM swap attack. Crypto exchange Coinbase has also been entangled in a case in which a user lost $96,000 in a similar attack.
Although the hackers have been identified, it’s unclear whether the funds or assets bought with the ill-gotten wealth have been confiscated.