A new sim-swapping trial is in the news – a 21-year-old Manhattanite stands accused of stealing money from a wealthy Silicon Valley executive.
One million dollars
Nicholas Truglia, who reportedly lives on New York’s affluent 42nd street, hacked into the phones of six people and succeeded in stealing $1 million from one of them.
The alleged victim one Robert Ross, of San Francisco. He says that Truglia got into his phone and stole $500,000 from his accounts at two different cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase and Gemini, taking a total of $1 million. Ross became aware of a problem when his mobile phone went dark.
He said that the money was meant to pay for his daughters’ college tuition fees.
Truglia was arrested by a California-based task force called REACT, which was set up to deal with this kind of fraud. A team flew to New York on the 14th of November and nabbed him at home. A search of the premises revealed a hardware wallet from which they were able to recover $300,000.
He is being held in Manhattan as he awaits extradition to California, where he will stand trial on 21 felony counts.
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Phishing in reverse
Sim-swapping is a simple fraud – the attacker tricks a phone company into giving them a sim card for someone else’s account. In May 2018, customers of TSB Bank were defrauded in this way when hackers took advantage of bank accidentally locking many of its customers out of their accounts during a system upgrade.
It is similar to phishing, which is when hackers solicit information from people by pretending to be working for a trusted authority or company. In fact, sim-swapping often involves phishing, because the fraudster has to get as much information on the victim as possible in order to trick that person’s mobile provider.
In August, a resident of Boston was arrested for stealing a total of $5 million from around 40 victims in the same way. Reportedly, he received a text from the daughter of a victim that read “Hi Daddy, Love you”. His response?: “TELL YOUR DAD TO GIVE US BITCOIN”.
Earlier this month, mobile providers AT&T and T-Mobile were served with a lawsuit because many of their customers were scammed in this way.
Deputy District Attorney Erin West, of Santa Clara Superior Court, told the New York Post: “You’re sitting in your home, your phone is in front of you, and you suddenly become aware there is no service because the bad guy has taken control of your phone number. It’s a new way of doing an old crime. It’s a pervasive problem, and it involves millions of dollars.”
Interestingly, Truglia was in the news earlier this month, as a victim. He alleged that he was attacked and tortured by a group of friends after a night out drinking – they wanted him to give up his cryptocurrency wallet address details. His friends say that he falsely accused him to cover up his own wrongdoing.