American Teen Charged with $1 Million Crypto Heist


December 19, 2019 8:25 pm

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Brooklyn based 19-year old boy has been suspected of being a part of an alleged $1+ million cryptocurrency heist affecting at least 75 victims in the U.S. The press release posted by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance alleged that Yousef Selassie, 19, conducted a “SIM-swapping” scheme targeting residents across 20 different states. SIM-swapping (port-out scam) involves victims’ cell phone numbers to hijack their online financial and social media accounts by intercepting the automated messages or phone calls used for two-factor authentication security measures. 

The report mentioned that Selassie has been indicted on nine counts, such as identity theft in the first and second degrees, grand larceny in the first and fourth degrees, computer trespassing, tampering and scheming to defraud in the first degree. Attorney Vance stated that the suspect had perpetrated the crimes from his Brooklyn apartment, accessing accounts belonging to 75 victims and siphoning more than $1 million in cryptocurrency using “little more than an iPhone and computer.”

The suspect compromised online accounts to determine whether his targets had cryptocurrency holdings, which included Gmail, Yahoo, and Dropbox. Selassie was arrested in Corona, California. The authorities also recovered various electronic devices, as well as custom-made jewelry, allegedly purchased using Bitcoin. The police also recovered a handwritten note containing a wallet seed phrase for a cryptocurrency wallet which was linked to several known victims and the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency.

The report added:

“The suspect had changed the passwords to these accounts to prevent victims from regaining control, and to have intentionally selected and targeted victims known to be active in cryptocurrency, due in part to the inherent difficulty in tracing the theft and transfer of cryptocurrency.” 

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