California school pupil tapped into cellphone accounts to steal cryptocurrency in SIM swap rip-off, feds say


A College of California, San Diego pupil obtained the cellular phone accounts of no less than 40 folks in an effort to take advantage of their cryptocurrency data and blackmailed one sufferer by threatening to launch compromising images, federal prosecutors stated Monday.

Richard Yuan Li, 21, of Hercules, California, faces conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to have interaction in interstate communication with intent to extort and to commit pc fraud and abuse, amongst different fees. The fees had been filed within the U.S. District Court docket for the Jap District of Louisiana.

Prosecutors did not say how a lot cryptocurrency Li allegedly stole or how the SIM swap scheme went down. They stated he activated no less than 40 numbers on his iPhone between July and December 2018.

In keeping with courtroom paperwork, he’s accused of collaborating in a SIM card rip-off and defrauding Apple. Prosecutors stated Li and a conspirator tricked an Apple consultant into sending them an iPhone 8 after claiming they has not been despatched one which was bought. 

They organized for the phone numbers of the victims to be swapped to SIM playing cards in cell telephones of their possession, authorities stated. By doing that, they had been capable of achieve entry to electronic mail and financial institution accounts and cryptocurrency wallets from their dorm rooms.

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In a single case, Li stole cryptocurrency from a New Orleans physician after which tried to blackmail him into handing over extra by threatening to share bare pictures of him. The physician held a number of cryptocurrency accounts with Binance, Bittrex, Coinbase, Germini and others, based on courtroom filings. 

One other individual charged in reference to the scheme, Stephen Daniel Defiore, 36, of Brandon, Florida, was charged in February with performing the SIM swaps of cellphone prospects for $500 a day. The cellphone firm was not disclosed. 

Li faces as much as 20 years in jail. 



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