Here at BREAKER, we’re enthralled by the promise of blockchain and cryptocurrency. But we love reading about all the scamsters and crooks in the space, too. And because we enjoy sharing, we’ve again rounded up the week’s most compelling cryptocurrency-related crime stories from around the web.
Vigilant Mom Helps Bring Down Alleged Hacker
It seems the summer of SIM swapping is upon us. Last week, Motherboard broke news of the arrest of a 20-year-old college student who stands accused, along with unnamed accomplices, of hijacking cellphone numbers to steal more than $5 million in crypto. This week comes a similar report: On July 18, authorities arrested Ricky Joseph Handschumacher, a 25-year-old employee of the city of Port Richey, Fla., charging him with grand theft and money laundering. Cops say Handschumacher was part of a multi-state crew that allegedly used a technique called SIM swapping, in which a hacker takes control of a victim’s cell number to break into their crypto accounts. According to a police complaint, the accused and a co-conspirator had discussed targeting “the CEO of Gemini,” presumably a reference to Tyler Winklevoss. The scheme began to unravel in February, when a Michigan woman called the cops on her son after overhearing him on the phone pretending to be an AT&T employee. That kid ultimately became “confidential source #1” in a criminal complaint against Handschumacher, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges. [KrebsOnSecurity]
“Cocaineking247” Sentenced in Dark Web Grenade Case
A judge sentenced Paul Stellato, a 47-year-old career criminal from Northamptonshire, in the U.K., to a minimum of seven years in prison for, among other charges, the attempted purchase of three fragmentation grenades via the now-defunct dark web market AlphaBay. Using the totally rad screen name cocaineking247, Stellato in late 2016 sent the seller—who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent—$370.48 in bitcoin to import the grenades, which he wrote were “not for terrorism affairs, domestic protection only.” The sentencing judge told Stellato, who has 36 prior convictions for 171 offenses, “There is no way to determine when, if ever, you will cease to be dangerous.” Stellato’s lawyer said his client has “a significant mental health history” and “is more of a Walter Mitty, [than] someone who is a menace to society.” [Northampton Chronicle & Echo]
Thai Actor Busted for Alleged Bitcoin Scam
“Boom” gets busted! On Wednesday, police arrested Thai actor Jiratpisit “Boom” Jaravijit, 27, in Bangkok for alleged money-laundering. Jaravjit and six other suspects—including two of his siblings and some prominent businesspeople—allegedly tricked a Finnish man, Aarni Otava Saarimaa, into forking over 797 million baht ($24 million) in bitcoin, supposedly in exchange for shares in companies that invested in an entertainment coin called Dragon Coin. The alleged mark claims he never got any shares. Jaravijit, who denied the charge, was arrested during a film shoot at a shopping mall. That’ll make for some good footage for his sizzle reel. [Bangkok Post]
Photo courtesy of National Crime Agency