A College of California, San Diego pupil obtained the cellphone accounts of no less than 40 folks in an effort to exploit their cryptocurrency data and blackmailed one sufferer by threatening to launch compromising photographs, federal prosecutors mentioned Monday.
Richard Yuan Li, 21, of Hercules, California, faces conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to have interaction in interstate communication with intent to extort and to commit laptop fraud and abuse, amongst different fees. The costs had been filed within the U.S. District Courtroom for the Japanese District of Louisiana.
Prosecutors did not say how a lot cryptocurrency Li allegedly stole or how the SIM swap scheme went down. They mentioned he activated no less than 40 numbers on his iPhone between July and December 2018.
In keeping with court docket paperwork, he’s accused of collaborating in a SIM card rip-off and defrauding Apple. Prosecutors mentioned Li and a conspirator tricked an Apple consultant into sending them an iPhone 8 after claiming they has not been despatched one which was bought.
They organized for the phone numbers of the victims to be swapped to SIM playing cards in cell telephones of their possession, authorities mentioned. By doing that, they had been in a position to achieve entry to electronic mail and financial institution accounts and cryptocurrency wallets from their dorm rooms.
In a single case, Li stole cryptocurrency from a New Orleans physician after which tried to blackmail him into handing over extra by threatening to share bare photographs of him. The physician held a number of cryptocurrency accounts with Binance, Bittrex, Coinbase, Germini and others, based on court docket filings.
One other individual charged in reference to the scheme, Stephen Daniel Defiore, 36, of Brandon, Florida, was charged in February with performing the SIM swaps of cellphone prospects for $500 a day. The cellphone firm was not disclosed.
Li faces as much as 20 years in jail.