A U.S. court has ordered Wagaafe Hared, a teenage hacker involved in cryptocurrency theft, to give back nearly $5.2 million in stolen Bitcoin and forfeit a sports car purchased with the stolen funds. Hared, an Arizona native, was a member of a crypto-crime group that has been active since 2016.
As reported by The San Francisco Standard, Hared and his co-conspirators specifically targeted affluent individuals in the tech industry residing in San Francisco, a city noted for its robust fintech and tech sectors.
The criminals employed SIM swapping techniques, tricking mobile phone providers into transferring the victims’ phone numbers to SIM cards under their control. This enabled them to infiltrate the email and cryptocurrency accounts of the victims and illicitly transfer their assets.
Hared was apprehended in 2019 when he was discovered purchasing a McLaren sports car using Bitcoin. He subsequently admitted guilt to 11 charges, including wire fraud, identity theft, and unauthorized computer access. He is mandated to surrender the sports car and compensate his victims, with a potential prison term of up to 10 years looming.
The rise in cryptocurrency thefts is becoming increasingly problematic. As cryptocurrencies grow in value and popularity, so do the security risks associated with the digital assets. Criminal tactics to pilfer cryptocurrencies vary, ranging from online hacks to physical intimidation.
A concerning new trend involves home invasions, where criminals impersonate service personnel to gain entry into the residences of crypto-rich individuals. Once inside, they either use force or intimidation to extract information for accessing the victims’ cryptocurrency accounts.
In Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Richmond has warned the public about this escalating issue. Over the past year, several such incidents have been confirmed by the RCMP, leading to at least one arrest tied to these types of crimes.