Michael Terpin has sued 18-year old Ellis Pinsky, a high school senior living in the posh New York City suburb of Irvington in Westchester County. Terpin alleges that Pinsky was the perpetrator of a “sophisticated cybercrime spree” that saw over $100 million stolen in cryptocurrency – including his money.
Terpin is engaged in an ongoing legal battle with AT&T Mobility, filed in 2018, claiming the company’s security and anti-fraud protocols were woefully insufficient. Terpin was a target of a SIM Swap fraud that was rampant for a period of time. In the scam, a fraudster gains control of an individual’s mobile phone by swapping the SIM card. This is typically accomplished either with the assistance of an insider or by convincing support personal to swap the phone’s control to the perpetrator. Once a mobile phone is hijacked, the crook resets passwords using 2-factor identification which becomes a type of digital skeleton key. Terpin had approximately $24 million stolen using this scheme.
Pinsky, who recently turned 18, is described as a hacker who worked with Nick Truglia – previously identified and awaiting criminal trial as an alleged cryptocurrency thief. Apparently, Truglia would identify the mark and gain access to the mobile phone and then hand the information off to Pinsky who executed the hack.
Truglia and Pinsky allegedly met in a chatroom called OGUsers Forum or Original Gangsters.
Truglia is a target of a separate lawsuit initiated by Terpin.
According to the filing, Truglia has identified Pinsky, as well as others, in recorded conversations. The conversations were said to describe Pinsky’s “integral role” and how the loot was divvied up.
Terpin claims that Pinsky’s actions are “no less insidious than bank robberies, credit card and bank fraud, and money laundering by drug traffickers and terrorists.” And thus, Pinsky should be treated the same. Terpin calls Pinsky an “evil genius” who presents himself as an “all American boy.”
The filing claims that Pinsky was arrogant in his belief he would never get caught. In the filing, a quoted text from 2019 apparently by Pinsky states:
“You think I’m fucking dumb. . . . I’m not fucking stupid. . . . I threw out all my shit [computers]. . . . Fuck that attorney [Terpin’s lawyer]. They don’t have shit on me. . . . You think I’m dumb enough to keep all my money in America. . . . [Truglia] is a dumb ass . . . and got caught.”
Additionally, the filing states that Terpin’s attorney contacted Pinsky’s mother, a prominent doctor. Pinsky then texted:
“I’m well off I’m good I don’t need extra money I’m set for life . . . You’re a dumb n****r I could buy you and all your family . . . I have 100 million dollars.”
Since the above text, the defendant has apparently made a payment of $2 million to Terpin.
The filing also explains how the stolen gains were laundered. The crypto was first removed from a target account to accounts on well-known crypto exchanges like Binance and then converted into more liquid cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. To get around KYC rules, apparently stolen passports were utilized.
Terpin not only seeks to regain his stolen money but seeks punitive and exemplary damages “to make a public example of them.”