Last month, Ahmad Wagaafe Hared, a young hacker based in the United States, was ordered to forfeit approximately $5.2 million worth of Bitcoin (BTC), Stellar (XLM), and a BMW sports car to the government. According to a report, this order was made last week due to Hared’s involvement in a SIM-swapping scheme that targeted crypto executives in North California and the Bay Area.
The Bitcoin SIM-Swapping Hack
The SIM-swapping scheme, orchestrated by Hared–who went by the alias “winblo” — began in 2016 and was stopped by local authorities in 2019.
Hared and his accomplices obtained their victims’ contact information before entering a plea agreement with law enforcement agencies. They would then contact cellphone service providers, manipulating company representatives into believing they were the legitimate owners of the targeted phone numbers.
After that, they swapped cards, illegally taking control of their victims’ phone numbers. With this scheme, the hacker gained unauthorized access to their victims’ email and other crypto accounts before transferring coins.
The success of this scheme is evident in the significant amount of assets ordered for forfeiture. Hared must surrender 119.8 BTC, valued at $5.2 million, and 93,420 XLM, worth $11,770. A 2017 BMW sports car, believed to be proceeds of crime, must also be surrendered to the state.
The young hacker has been under arrest for over three years now. As mentioned, in 2019, Hared entered a plea agreement, though many case documents remain sealed, and the deal has not been disclosed to the public. Hared will be sentenced in January 2024 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to details, this case is tied to another SIM-swapping scheme, which saw the indictment of Anthony Francis Faulk, also known as “shade,” who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in 2019.
Hackers Have Stolen Over $200 Million In 2023 Alone
In a recent report, blockchain intelligence firm Chainalysis claimed that hackers linked to North Korea have stolen over $200 million worth of cryptocurrencies to finance their nuclear weapons program.
In August, Lazarus Group said to be sponsored by the North Korean regime, was linked to the $34 million CoinsPaid hack. They were also reportedly behind the Stake.com hack, the FBI claims. The hit on the crypto casino saw over $40 million of coins robbed.
As part of their activities, hackers employ several tactics to steal Bitcoin and coins, including SIM-swapping, phishing, supply chain attacks, and infrastructure hacks.
Feature image from Canva, chart from TradingView