The US Department of Justice accuses a student from California of fraud with SIM cards and stealing cryptocurrency from an investor from New Orleans, as well as 27 other similar crimes.
A student at the University of California in San Diego, Richard Yuan Li, is accused of plotting to implement a fraudulent scheme that injured 19 people, and cryptocurrency was stolen from an investor from New Orleans. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Lee in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The amount of funds stolen from the New Orleans investor was not disclosed. However, according to the case file, the victim had accounts on the exchanges Binance, Bittrex, Coinbase, Gemini and Poloniex. In addition, it is known that one of the criminals tried to extort 100 BTC from him. The case also reveals details of SIM card fraud.
According to prosecutors, Lee and his accomplice first tricked an Apple representative into sending them an iPhone 8, and then “arranged for the victim’s phone number to be transferred” to that phone and circumvented security measures to gain access to the files. According to the Justice Department, Lee was involved in at least 28 SIM card fraud cases between October and December 2018.
Prosecutors argue that these actions constitute federal crimes, since SIM card swapping signals are transmitted across state borders and these actions fall under the provisions on interstate commerce in the US Constitution. If convicted, Lee faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Last fall, cryptocurrency investor Michael Terpin, who was a victim of such fraud, wrote an open letter to the chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and demanded that SIM card fraud be stopped. Turpin claims to have lost $24 million worth of cryptocurrencies as a result of two scams involving his mobile phone number.