Michael Terpin, a US-based entrepreneur and investor, won a $75.8 million lawsuit in a civil judgment against a 21 year-old New York resident Nicholas Truglia, who allegedly defrauded Terpin of digital currencies, Reuters reports.
The decision of the California Superior Court marks arguably the biggest individual compensation awarded in the cryptocurrency space to this date.
Terpin filled a lawsuit in January after three million tokens, worth around $23.8 million at the time, were stolen from the account on his mobile phone in early 2018 by applying a SIM-swap scheme. In an additional court case, Terpin sued AT&T, his service provider, for granting access to fraudsters to his phone.
“In recent incidents, law enforcement has even confirmed that AT&T employees profited from working directly with cyber terrorists and thieves in SIM swap frauds,” Terpin said at the time.
A relatively new fraud scheme, the SIM-swap scam is a sophisticated form of fraud that allows hackers to gain access to one’s data and assets. The first part of the scam includes collection of material of the targeted individual, after which they seek from telecom providers to grant them access to the individual’s phone through a new SIM card with the same number as they “lost” the old one.
Once the access is granted, they use a two-factor authentication to attack bank accounts and read codes sent to the individual’s smartphone from banks or crypto exchanges. In this particular case, Truglia gained access over Terpin’s phone, changed passwords and used the opportunity to access online accounts.
“It’s a whole new wave of crime…it’s a new way of stealing money: they target people that they believe to have cryptocurrency,” explains Erin West, the deputy district attorney of Santa Clara.
Newconomy reported in November last year that Truglia was arrested and ultimately charged with 21 counts, including identity theft, embezzlement, fraud and other charges, for stealing around $1 million in cryptocurrency from a Silicon Valley executive. Following the arrest, police managed to recover a hardware wallet and around $300,000 of stolen funds.