A former employee of the telephone company is charged with conspiracy to defraud for allegedly using his access to customer account data to take over the telephone numbers of 19 customers, including at least one cryptocurrency holder.
Stephen Daniel DeFiore of Brandon, Florida, received about $ 2,325 between October 20, 201
The indictment comes eight months after federal prosecutors charged Richard Yuan Li of Hercules, California, with conspiracy to commit fraud for his alleged role in a SIM swapping scam involving at least 20 people. Li was in possession of an iPhone 8 to which the number of at least one of DeFiore’s victims was directed, prosecutors said.
The alleged victim was a doctor in the New Orleans area with cryptocurrency accounts at stock exchanges, including Binance, Bittrex, Coinbase, Gemini, Poloniex, ItBit and Neo Wallet. Li and his accomplices then allegedly had access to the doctor’s e-mail and cryptocurrency accounts and stole a “significant portion” of the victim’s holdings.
The prosecutor went on to claim that even after the doctor restored the phone account, Li or one of his accomplices called the doctor to say that he had looked at pictures in the doctor’s Gmail account and balances in the doctor’s cryptocurrency accounts. The caller then demanded 100 bitcoins, worth about 640,000 dollars at the time, in exchange for not publishing the pictures or stealing the cryptocurrency.
Prosecutors did not identify the telephone company DeFiore worked for, but this LinkedIn profile shows a Stephen DiFiore working as a Verizon customer service representative in Brandon, Florida. Verizon representatives did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment on this story. Attempts to reach DeFiore were unsuccessful.
This week’s accusations come as so-called SIM exchange crimes continue to spread, largely motivated by criminal attempts to obtain large amounts of cryptocurrency in online accounts. When a perpetrator gains control of the victims’ phone accounts, the perpete type usually uses access to complete resets of email accounts and from there resets passwords of other accounts.
If convicted, DeFiore will face a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $ 250,000. Earlier this week, European officials announced the arrests of 10 people in connection with a series of SIM swapping attacks that garnered more than $ 100 million.