Court grants $75.8 million to US crypto theft victim

May 13, 2019 | AtoZ Markets – California’s Supreme Court has awarded the US crypto theft victim Michael Terpin with $75.8 million in his civil judgment against 21-year-old Nicholas Truglia, who reportedly had stolen millions of dollars worth of crypto from Terpin by using the SIM swapping method.

Michael Terpin believes AT&T cooperated with crypto scammers

Michael Terpin is an American blockchain and crypto investor, a co-founder of the world’s first distributed veteran entrepreneur and investor group BitAngels. Terpin who has worked with over 100 projects running ICOs since entering the blockchain space in early 2013 also, founded blockchain PR firm Transform Group.

Despite quiet impressive compensation for losses (around $75.8 million ), the BitAngels co-founder alluded that his crusade against crypto scammers is not over yet. After winning the case against New York crypto scammer Nicholas Truglia, Terpin noted, that his team also actively pursuing a federal court case against his phone carrier AT&T for $224 million compensation.

The US crypto theft victim claimed that millions of dollars in digital currency were stolen from his crypto account because AT&T failed to protect his private data. Terpin has also accused the aforementioned company’s staff members of being involved in a SIM swap fraud by giving hackers direct access to customer information and by overriding AT&T’s security procedures.”

The US crypto investor who has been represented by Los Angeles law firm Greenberg Gluskeralso noted that there had been many other cases where AT&T had acted negligently.

Who is Nicholas Truglia?

Nicholas Truglia, a 21-year-old American from New York, hit the headlines on news platforms in January 2019, after being named as the main suspect in a SIM swapping case that saw the plaintiff lose $24 million in a crypto fraud scheme.

On December 31, 2018, Michael Terpin filled a declaration with the United States District Court in L.A where he claimed to have identified Truglia as the primary suspect who stole crypto from him.

The 21-year-old New Yorker had been previously imprisoned in Santa Clara County, California for a similar charge. The fraudster was arrested for stealing over $1 million of crypto coins from Silicon Valley executives. Terpin’s lawsuit from December 31 claimed that SIM swapping fraud that resulted in the loss of crypto worth $23.8 million occurred between Jan.7 and Jan.8, 2018.

Truglia supposedly did not work alone and allegedly have stolen Terpin’s crypto funds by taking under his control investor’s phone number, resetting passwords and accessing US crypto theft victim’s online accounts.

As evidence of Truglia’s guilt, the court presented text messages that were sent by the scammer on the same date when Terpin got all of his accounts attacked. In his messages, Truglia was saying to his friends that he had stolen a crypto wallet with more than $20 million in it. In one of the texts, he was bragging that he is a millionaire and confessed to his friends that particular theft was his largest.

Self-protection measures against “SIM-swapping”

SIM-swapping is a type of identity theft. The scammer gets access to the victim’s social media accounts and other financial accounts including bank accounts, credit card numbers, by stealing the user’s cell phone’s number.

Such kind of fraud has become possible since many companies started using automated messages to handle customer authentication. To collect as much information about the victims as possible, SIM-swapping scammers apply different techniques including:

  • phishing mail — messages that impersonate legitimate businesses
  • public websites’ and social media scrapping to collect their target’s personal data.

After acquiring all relevant information about the victim the scammers create a false identity. Then they call the victim’s cell phone provider and claim that his or her SIM card has been lost or damaged and ask to activate a SIM card or number in their possession. Once scammers have gained unfettered access to a victim’s phone number they target bank accounts.

Andrew Blaich, a security researcher at Lookout and Emma Mohan-Satta, a fraud prevention consultant at Kaspersky Labs recommend the following precautions to avoid SIM card fraud :

  • avoid revealing too much personal data online
  • check on what alerts can be set up with the bank or phone company to identify any attempts to access your account
  • use encrypted messaging apps that aren’t as prone to snooping as SMS.
  • enable two-factor authentication, which requires a randomly generated passcode in addition to a username and password
  • use services that don’t use SMS for their codes
  • use authenticator apps like Google Authenticator or any number of other apps that provide a similar service
  • avoid using SMS as a primary method of communication because the data in an SMS is not encrypted and is capable of being snooped on easily

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