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Nicholas Truglia, a 21-year-old man from Manhattan, has hacked into phones belonging to Silicon Valley executives in an attempt to steal their cryptocurrency. He was successful in one attempt.
Truglia was successful in stealing $1 million from Robert Ross in a SIM swapping scheme. The money was stolen from two wallets, Coinbase and Gemini, with around $500,000 stolen from each. Once the cash was converted, Truglia moved it into his own personal account. Truglia had targeted other victims and was successful in hijacking their phone, but not in stealing any more cryptocurrency. It is thought that Truglia was working with a crew, but no further details about this have been released.
SIM swapping scams occur when the attacker successfully convinces a phone provider to port the victim’s number to their phone, thereby giving them access to the device.
Truglia will be extradited from Manhattan to Santa Clara, CA, to face 21 charges.
Truglia likely gained access to the wallets by finding the user’s private key stored on their device. This case once again highlights the importance of keeping private keys safe and secure. We use our phones almost as a second brain, a place to store important information we don’t want to lose or forget. But it needs to be remembered that phones are not always secure and not above being hacked. The message here is don’t lose your private keys, and don’t keep them somewhere where they can be stolen.
Often cryptocurrency is successfully stolen from wallets of people who are not tech savvy. This is not the case here since these executives work in Silicon Valley, arguably the main tech hub of the planet. However, it’s possible that they were so comfortable with the technology that they were maybe a little too relaxed with its security. This is a lesson learned the hard way, but not one these guys will be likely to repeat.
With more people taking to cryptocurrency, we are also seeing an increase in crypto fraud. It’s possible that the Californian court will dish out a harsh sentence to Truglia in order to set an example and deter other criminals. If Truglia is working with a crew, hopefully, the message has been sent that they are not as anonymous as they think, and they should take a step down. We are expecting more news to follow once Truglia is extradited to California.