SIM-swapper gets 18 months, must pay back $20 million he stole from crypto investor

A 25-year-old Florida man was sentenced on Thursday to a year-and-a-half in prison and ordered to pay restitution for his participation in a SIM-swapping scheme that siphoned off cryptocurrency worth more than $23 million at the time. 

Nicholas Truglia was involved in the 2018 heist along with an unknown number of perpetrators who gained access to the phone of Michael Terpin, a prominent crypto investor, by linking his phone number to a SIM card in their possession and thereby getting access to his accounts. The group stole some three million tokens, worth about $23.8 million. According to the criminal indictment, the tokens ended up in Truglia’s account and were converted to Bitcoin, with the proceeds shared among the participants. According to the Southern District of New York’s Attorney’s Office, Truglia must pay Terpin more than $20 million in restitution within 60 days. 

Truglia was arrested in 2018 and extradited to California on charges that he stole $1 million from a San Francisco man in another SIM-swapping scheme. Separately, in 2019 a California Superior Court ruled that Truglia owes Terpin $75 million in damages.

In November, the alleged ringleader of the group, Ellis Pinsky, reached a deal with Terpin in a New York district court to pay him $22 million. Pinsky was just 15 years old at the time of the hack, attending high school in suburban New York. 

Terpin has also brought suit against his cell provider, AT&T, over security lapses. A California judge threw out a $200 million damages claim in 2020 against the company but allowed other aspects of the case to proceed. 

In February 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned the public about SIM swapping schemes, saying that they had received more than 1,600 complaints and knew of losses of more than $68 million from incidents in 2021 alone. 

The perpetrators are often minors, and in recent years there has been a spike in violent incidents among clashing groups of swappers

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James Reddick

James Reddick

has worked as a journalist around the world, including in Lebanon and in Cambodia, where he was Deputy Managing Editor of The Phnom Penh Post. He is also a radio and podcast producer for outlets like Snap Judgment.