A Brooklyn teenager was accused of running an identity theft scheme in which he allegedly stole cryptocurrency worth over $1 million. Prosecutors described it as a “sophisticated” SIM swapping operation.
Yousef Selassie, 19, pleaded not guilty to identity theft, scheme to defraud, first-degree grand larceny, computer tampering and computer trespass in Manhattan Supreme Court. He allegedly operated the scheme alone out of his apartment from January 2019 through May 2019. Authorities said the teen spent a portion of the stolen cryptocurrency on Rolex watches, diamond jewelry and other luxury items.
A SIM swapping scam involves a person’s cellphone number being transferred to a scammer’s cellphone. The scammer can then use the stolen number for calls and text messages. Changing the password ensures the victim is unable to access their cellphone.
According to court documents, Selassie fraudulently obtained the cellphone numbers of more than 75 people in New York and across 19 other U.S. states. He allegedly bypassed two-factor authentication security measures to access the victim’s various online accounts, including cryptocurrency accounts. Prosecutors claimed Selassie targeted high-paid executives in certain industries known to actively deal in cryptocurrency.
If you have been accused of identity theft in New York, contact Brill Legal Group. Our defense attorneys provide experienced legal representation.