Joel Ortiz, a college student who allegedly stole cryptocurrency worth over $5 million, has pleaded guilty and accepted a 10-year prison sentence. Ortiz was arrested last year and accused of hijacking the phone numbers of around 40 people. He is now the first person to be sentenced for the crime, commonly known as SIM swapping.
First Case of SIM Swapping Conviction
The 20-year-old from Boston was detained at Los Angeles International Airport in July 2018 while trying to leave for Europe. He is one of several hackers arrested for SIM swapping last year including Xzavyer Narvaez, Nicholas Truglia and Joseph Harris.
All of these individuals have been accused of stealing millions in crypto. The SIM swappers used the hijacked phone numbers to gain access to the victims’ email and social media accounts, as well as their bitcoin wallets.
Joel Ortiz accepted the plea deal last week and will be officially sentenced on March 14, Motherboard reported, quoting the Deputy District Attorney in Santa Clara County, California, Erin West. Authorities believe his case is the first that ends with a conviction for SIM swapping. West commented:
In looking at Joel’s sentence – 10 years – it shows that our community will not tolerate this type of crime. And we will continue to find everyone who’s responsible.
Multiple Other Investigations Under Way
Law enforcement representatives expressed hope the case will also serve as an example for others alleged or suspected of the same crime and send a message to the hackers. The officials did not reveal the number of ongoing investigations but admitted there have been new arrests and search warrants.