One of the culprits of last year’s big Twitter breach, Joseph James O’Connor, has been accused of yet another felony involving the theft of $784,000 in cryptocurrencies via a SIM swapping fraud.
According to Reuters, the 22-year-old and his collaborators targeted three cryptocurrency firm leaders during the fraudulent scam, which took place between March and May 2019.
After successfully completing the SIM switch, the accused stole bitcoin, ether, and litecoin from two clients and laundered the proceeds, according to the prosecutors.
Identity theft, money laundering conspiracies, wire fraud, and computer hacking are among the charges levied against O’Connor and his crew. If convicted, the accused could face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
In July of this year, O’Connor was arrested for his role in the hacking of senior politicians and celebrities’ Twitter accounts in 2019. U.S. President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos are among the prominent figures whose accounts were hacked by O’Connor and his gang.
Accounts belonging to significant crypto organizations, such as Binance, Bitfinex, Coinbase, Changpeng Zhao, and Justin Sun, were also compromised. By tweeting about fraudulent giveaways, O’Connor, also known as PlugwalkJoe, and his organization accumulated almost $118,000 in Bitcoin from unsuspecting victims.
While O’Connor remains in imprisonment in Spain awaiting extradition to the United States, his hacking partner and adolescent mastermind, Graham Ivan Clark, pleaded guilty in March in a Florida court and agreed to spend a three-year sentence in a juvenile prison.
Scammers can move a victim’s phone number to another device and gain access to all linked accounts by SIM switching. As technology advances, there have been countless stories of SIM switch hacks, with criminals exploiting the method to steal millions of dollars over time. Last year, an unnamed hacker stole $45 million in BTC and Bitcoin Cash from a whale investor, making it one of the largest SIM swapping scams in history.