Joseph James O’Connor, one of the perpetrators of the massive Twitter hack last year, has been charged with yet another crime that involves the theft of $784,000 worth of cryptocurrencies via a SIM swapping scam.
Charged With Crypto Theft
Reuters reported that U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan said the fraudulent scheme, which ran from March to May 2019, saw the 22-year-old alongside his accomplices targeting three cryptocurrency company executives.
The prosecutors noted that after the accused had successfully conducted the SIM swap, they stole bitcoin, ether, and litecoin from two clients and laundered the loot.
Notably, the charges leveled against O’Connor and his gang include identity theft, conspiracies to commit money laundering, wire fraud, and computer hacking. If convicted, the accused could spend up to 20-year jail terms or more.
O’Connor’s Involvement in the Twitter Hack
Recall that O’Connor was arrested in July this year for his involvement in the hack of top politicians and celebrities’ Twitter accounts in 2019.
Some of the prominent personalities who had their accounts breached by O’Connor and his gang are U.S. President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, among others.
The incident also affected accounts belonging to major crypto entities, including Binance, Bitfinex, Coinbase, Changpeng Zhao, and Justin Sun.
O’Connor also referred to as PlugwalkJoe, and his group amassed over $118,000 in Bitcoin from unsuspecting victims by tweeting about fake giveaways.
While O’Connor is still in detention in Spain and is awaiting extradition to the U.S., his partner and teenage mastermind of the hack, Graham Ivan Clark, pleaded guilty back in March in a Florida court and will serve a three-year jail term in a juvenile prison based on his agreement with authorities.
Increasing SIM Swapping Crimes
Through SIM swapping, scammers can transfer a victim’s phone number to another device with the hope of accessing all associated accounts.
As technology continues to evolve, there have been numerous reports of SIM swap hacks, with perpetrators using the means to cart away millions of dollars over the years.
One of the biggest SIM swapping scams in history was carried out last year, where an anonymous hacker stole a whopping $45 million in BTC and Bitcoin Cash from a whale investor.