Irish SIM Swapper Jailed for Crypto Theft of Over $2 Million
A 21-year-old Irish man has been jailed for his involvement in a SIM swapping scheme that defrauded individuals out of $2 million in crypto holdings.
The Dublin Circuit Criminal Court sentenced Conor Freeman to slightly less than three years of jail time. Freeman and the others involved had reportedly netted over 142 BTC from the operation that took place during May 2018.
After recent bitcoin price rises, the crypto appropriated would now be worth more than $2 million.
SIM Swapping Ring Targeted Crypto Holders via Social Media
The SIM swapping scheme saw Freeman and five others gain access to the email accounts of at least three victims. According to local news publication Leinster Express, the group targeted individuals on social media who they suspected of holding large amounts of cryptocurrency.
Among them was Seth Shapiro, who lost what Judge Martin Nolan described as his life savings and money from the sale of his home. All three victims had funds taken between May 15 and May 18, 2018.
The court heard that Freeman met the rest of the group online. They then sought out the email addresses and telephone numbers of their victims.
The group leveraged contacts with connections to telecommunications firms to transfer their victims’ phone numbers to new SIM cards. This allowed them to bypass two-factor authentication methods protecting email accounts.
With access to email accounts, the group was able to discover where victims held their cryptocurrency. They could then use similar methods to empty their exchange accounts.
The group reportedly split up the proceeds from the scheme evenly between themselves. The other five members of the operation face legal action in the US.
SIM Swapper Pleads Guilty and Hands Over Access to Wallets
Freeman pleaded guilty to stealing $100,000, $167,622, and $1,921,335 from the three victims respectively. He was sentenced to two years and 11 months behind bars on Tuesday.
Following his initial arrest, Freeman gave local law enforcement access to wallets holding the appropriated funds. He had already spent around €130,000.
In sentencing, Judge Nolan said the enterprise was “sophisticated” and the large sum of money taken demanded a custodial sentence. However, he also cited guilty pleas, lack of previous convictions, evidence of no further involvement with the group, and Freeman’s cooperation with law enforcement as mitigating factors.