Over the weekend, reports from Reuters mentioned how a crypto investor, Michael Terpin won $75 million in compensatory and punitive damages, against Nicholas Truglia. Based out of Manhattan, Truglia who is just 21 years old is alleged by Terpin to be a member of a group of crypto fraudsters, versed in stealing crypto assets through sim-swapping.
On Friday, in a judgement now celebrated as the largest ever won in a crypto-related crime, the California Superior Court ordered Truglia to pay the sum of $75.8 million to Terpin. The Terpin v Truglia case was the result of a civil complaint made by Terpin in January this year due to the theft of his crypto assets, an incident which occurred sometimes early last year.
Before the Truglia case, Terpin had previously, in August last year, also filed a complaint with the US District Court, Los Angeles, against his service provider AT&T on claims of being negligent in connection to the fraud incident. As claimed by Terpin in the August filling, about three million tokens were stolen from his cell phone when Truglia and his crew of cronies fraudulently took over control of his phone number. Three months after the August filing by Terpin, Truglia was arrested, with additional six other crimes to answer to. What a grace to grass story for someone who before his arrest “lived a life of luxury including private jets, sports cars, and Rolex watches.”
Sim-swapping is a new identity theft scam that is currently on the rise due to the use of mobile devices for authentication. The average person when transacting online, especially in the crypto space sets up two-factor authentication for transactions like withdrawal and transfers. Malefactors have taken advantage of a loophole in this security feature, in that once they are able to take over control of a particular sim, all information related to the sim becomes available to them. Hackers can simply clear out victim’s bank accounts and in Terpin’s case, his crypto wallets.
Terpin’s crypto assets at the time of theft were worth $23.8 million. This is probably a lone tree compared to the $1.2 billion forest of crypto losses resulting from fraud, according to CipherTrace, a cybersecurity firm.