Joel Ortiz, a 20-year-old college student, pleaded guilty and accepted a plea-deal of 10 years in prison. Ortiz stole more than $5 million in cryptocurrency, by hijacking phone numbers from more than 40 people. According to reports, Ortiz is also the first person to be sentenced for SIM swapping, where hijackers basically trick carriers into swapping SIM cards and moving services to the ones they control. Once in control of the phone number, they control all account to which said phone number has been tied to, two-factor authentication or not.
“We think justice has been served. And hopefully this is a strong message to that community”, and agent on the Ortiz case told Motherboard. Ortiz is just one of the hackers arrested for hijacking phone numbers in order to gain access to emails, social media accounts, and online Bitcoin wallets. He, however, is the first one to be convicted, according to the authorities. Ortiz will be sentenced on March 14. “Each arrest that we made sent shockwaves through that community”, said Erin West, the Deputy District Attorney in Santa Clara County, California.