March 28, 2024
DOJ Targets Teenage Bitcoin Bandit: $5.2M Crypto Heist and Sports Car Seized
Bitcoin News

DOJ Targets Teenage Bitcoin Bandit: $5.2M Crypto Heist and Sports Car Seized

The U.S. Department of Justice is taking action to confiscate millions of dollars in Bitcoin that a teenage hacker had pilfered from cryptocurrency executives four years ago. Additionally, prosecutors are pursuing the return of the sports car he had purchased with the ill-gotten Bitcoin.

Recently, a federal judge authorized an order compelling Ahmad Wagaafe Hared to surrender $5.2 million worth of Bitcoin that he had stolen in 2016, as reported by The San Francisco Standard. The Bitcoin, along with the sports car, were obtained through a SIM-swapping scheme devised by Hared and two accomplices between 2016 and 2018.

SIM-swapping involves a hacker tricking a cellphone carrier into granting control of a target’s phone by posing as the phone’s owner. This tactic is a common social engineering technique employed by hackers to gain access to personal information, enabling them to steal from their targets or bypass text message-based two-factor authentication measures.

In 2016, the then-18-year-old Hared, residing in Tucson, Arizona, collaborated with co-conspirator Matthew Gene Ditman from Nevada to deceive customer support representatives of cellphone providers into revealing details about the SIM cards linked to the accounts of cryptocurrency executives in Northern California. While the executives remain unidentified, the region is synonymous with Silicon Valley and a thriving ecosystem of cryptocurrency companies and startups. Notably, Coinbase, the largest exchange in the United States, once had its headquarters in San Francisco before transitioning to a fully remote operation.

Harred was already a recognized figure in the darknet community, where he operated under the username ‘winblo,’ according to independent cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs. Under this identity, Harred was described as being highly active and respected on an online marketplace specializing in the sale of coveted social media accounts.

With some of the proceeds from these thefts, Harred purchased a BMW i8, which, as reported by Krebs, had an approximate value of $150,000 at the time. Prosecutors, in their indictment, alleged that Harred and Ditman even contacted some of their victims after seizing control of their accounts in an attempt to further extort them. The scheme unraveled in 2019 following an FBI investigation that identified Harred and Ditman, leading to their arrest. To date, the pair has not been sentenced.

Image by macrovector on Freepik

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