back to article 'Baby Al Capone' to pay $22m to SIM-swap crypto-heist victim

A man who lost $24 million in cryptocurrency in an elaborate SIM swapping scam has won a multi-million-dollar judgment against the thief, who was 15 at the time of the hustle. According to court documents [PDF] filed Friday in a federal New York City court, Ellis Pinsky agreed to pay Michael Terpin $22 million for his starring …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the hole

    If Pinsky is ever going to pay Terpin that $20 million, Pinsky is going to need to work extra hard on more SIM swapping capers.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: In the hole

      Nah, there are plenty of ways to liberate $22M from cryptocurrency enthusiasts. It needn't be SIM swaps.

  2. oiseau

    ... a judge threw out a $200 million damages claim Terpin had filed against AT&T.

    So ...

    According to the judge ATT has no responsibility in what transpired?

    No accontability whatsoever?

    I have never even thought of using my cell phone to do any sort of on-line activity involving my bank, buying or paying for something.

    Call me backwards if you will, but I think it is just asking for trouble.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Responsibly should be shared with all those who convinced financial entities that 2FA using a SIM is secure authentication.... especially in a country like US where impersonating someone else is quite easy.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        I don't believe I've seen any credible reports of SIM-swap attacks that involved impersonation. They all made use of insiders, who are easy (in the aggregate) to suborn.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      I have never even thought of using my cell phone to do any sort of on-line activity involving my bank, buying or paying for something.

      In this case, you wouldn't have to. You'd just have to use a web email service that insisted on using SMS for 2FA. That's all Pinsky needed the swap for, according to the article. Well, maybe for some other SMS 2FA responses.

      Of course, if your phone shows SMS messages on the lock screen (or isn't locked), then the SIM swap is unnecessary if the thief gains physical access to the phone, as reported last week.

      Now, we all know SMS is abysmal for 2FA; but many companies continue to use it, and the alternatives are mostly also terrible. TOTP on a smartphone, for example, also has terrible failure modes, though at least in many of them it fails closed. The same is true of biometrics.

  3. Howard Sway Silver badge

    minus a $2m credit for paying us back a small portion

    So, if you steal $24 million off someone and get caught, you don't get prosecuted as long as you pay $22 million of it back to them, and they let you keep the tiny sum of $2 million as a reward for what a good boy you've been? If it's that easy and risk-free it certainly sounds like a better idea than working for a living..................

    1. KBeee

      Re: minus a $2m credit for paying us back a small portion

      The kid had already paid back $2M, so $22M was the balance owed.

      Lucky he was robbed really. If Terpin still had the 3,000,000 TRIG coins they'd only be worth $600k now instead of the $24M in real money he's now due to getting.

    2. iron Silver badge

      Re: minus a $2m credit for paying us back a small portion

      Learn to read. He paid that $2 million back already.

  4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    On the other hand...

    ...How much would the original owner have now? Would he have cashed in or transferred his TRIG coins before they crashed? Would he be worth more by being astute and moving the value around through various cryptos over the years? Or broke?

    1. Dimmer Bronze badge

      Re: On the other hand...

      where is the IRS in all this?

      If you started with 1mil of a crypto that is worth $.10 the value goes from $.10 to $10.00 you now have on paper $10mil. During that time you traded it back and forth and you don't move it into US dollars thinking it is like the stock market and it is "like transactions" but you now have to pay income tax on unrealized gains. It was never sold into US currency.

      Then January it falls back to $.10 and you need to sell it to pay taxes, you give all of your assets and home to the IRS to stay out of jail (this is our "voluntary" tax system by the way). You can't apply this year's loss against last year and you can only bring forward $3,500 in loss till the day you die.

      Ok, so lets say you go the other way. You have $10 mil in crypto at the first of the year, and at the end of the year you have $1 mil. Great! I can take the unrealized losses as a loss. NOPE, it is a one way street in the US favor. You can't take unrealized losses.

      The US made BILLIONS in taxes from this crypto IRS scam.

  5. Blackjack Silver badge

    And to think Google still pesters me to add a phone number.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This ^^^ x 1000

  6. Winkypop Silver badge


    Operator, well, let's forget about this call

    There's no one there I really wanted to talk to

    Thank you for your time

    Oh, you've been so much more than kind

    You can keep the $24 million…

  7. Joe Drunk

    Isn't social media wonderful?


    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Isn't social media wonderful?

      Indeed, before social media there was no way to identify who might work for which organization. A completely impenetrable mystery, that. No one ever dumpster-dived a copy of the company phone book or anything. Txtfile lists weren't posted to BBSes. Why, it's a wonder any insider crime ever occurred.

      1. vishaldutt

        Re: Isn't social media wonderful?

        Yes, of course, these days news channels are getting tough competition with social media. Role models prefer to tweet rather than face press conferences for the latest updates.

  8. Insert sadsack pun here

    "Pinsky has not...been charged with any crime, and it's presumed this is because he was a minor at the time of the theft..."

    Hah! The minimum age for prosecution in federal criminal matters is 11.

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