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 rounded up the week’s most compelling cryptocurrency-related crime stories from around the web.
Mining CEO Allegedly Absconds With $35 Million
We’ve got a runner! Le Minh Tam, the CEO of Vietnam cryptocurrency mining company Sky Mining, has allegedly taken off with $35 million worth of investors’ funds. After disappearing for about a week, Tam on Monday posted a brief video to Telegram, claiming he was undergoing medical treatment. “You will have your money,” he says in the clip, which he apparently shot while lying in bed. “Thank you for your cooperation. I did not run or go anywhere. I will come back soon.” Investors told police that people claiming to be maintenance workers had removed 600 mining rigs from Sky Mining’s factory. [Newsweek]
Student Accused in $5 Million SIM-Swapping Swindle
California cops last month busted Joel Ortiz, a 20-year-old college student from Boston, accusing him and unnamed accomplices of hijacking cellphone numbers to steal more than $5 million in crypto. Ortiz and associates allegedly used a technique called SIM swapping, in which the perp takes control of a victim’s cell number, to break into crypto accounts. The crew allegedly hacked around 40 people, including unidentified crypto holders gathered at the May Consensus Conference in New York. If you’ve got a lot of bitcoin you don’t want stolen, definitely check out this guide to protecting yourself from SIM-swapping hacks. [Motherboard]
Dark Web PR Guy Gets Jail Time
On Tuesday, a judge sentenced Ronald L. Wheeler III (aka Trappy), former public relations person for the dark web bazaar AlphaBay, to nearly four years in federal prison. The Streamwood, Ill., 25-year-old pleaded guilty in March to a charge of conspiracy to commit access device fraud. Prosecutors said Wheeler, along with others, had swiped personal information, including passwords and bank account numbers, to get money, goods, and services. Wheeler, who was paid a salary in bitcoin, promoted AlphaBay on Reddit in addition to mediating users’ sales disputes. International authorities shut down AlphaBay in 2017. [AP/Daily Herald]
Photo source: Telegram