A 23-year-old who allegedly used cryptocurrencies he stole from crypto executives and users to fund the purchase of houses, a Ferrari, a Rolex and the royalty rights to twenty songs was arrested in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, December 11th.
Anthony Francis Faulk has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of interstate communications with intent to extort and appeared before a judge in the Western District of Pennsylvania Wednesday.
He was subsequently been released on a $250,000 bond and is scheduled to appear before Judge Sallie Kim on January 9th, 2020.
“Faulk and others engaged in a ‘SIM swapping’ scheme. A SIM card—short for Subscriber Identity Module or Subscriber Identification Module—is a technology used to identify and authenticate subscribers on mobile phone devices.”
“According to the indictment, Faulk and others used fraud, deception, and social engineering techniques to induce representatives of cellphone service providers to transfer or port cellphone numbers from SIM cards in the devices possessed by victims to SIM cards in devices possessed by the conspirators, a practice known as SIM swapping.”
Once a target’s phone is successfully commandeered, apps and information therein can be used to access victim’s accounts, including bank, social media and cryptocurrency accounts, which may be drained:
“The indictment further alleges that after Faulk and his co-conspirators gained control of victims’ cellphone numbers, the conspirators used additional deceptive techniques to gain access to email, electronic storage, and other accounts of victims and ultimately to cryptocurrency accounts of victims.”
There are also allegations that, “Faulk and his co-conspirators…extorted victims of the SIM swapping scheme,” possibly by using sensitive information gleaned in the hacks.
Santa Clara’s REACT Task Force, a law enforcement unit dedicated to combating cybercrime, has been very effective at tracking down SIM-swap hackers in the past few years.
In this case, the investigation was conducted by the FBI.
If convicted on both charges, Faulk is facing a maximum prison sentence of 22 years and fines totalling $500,000 USD.
“The court also may order an additional term of supervised release, fines or other assessments, restitution, and forfeiture, if appropriate,” the release states.