McLaren-driving Teenage SIM Swapper Arrested In California With Over 150 BTC

A teenager in California has been arrested by the police in California for allegedly using the popular ‘SIM Swapping’ scam to steal Bitcoin from cellphones.


A teenager in California has been arrested by the police in California for allegedly using the popular ‘SIM Swapping’ scam to steal Bitcoin from cellphones.

The report claims that 19-year-old Xzavyer Narvaez, an alleged hacker, stole Bitcoins (BTC) worth millions (USD) from various individuals.

The police were able to find Narvaez because he would always use the same device to execute his scam and a recent purchase was tied to Narvaez’ Bittrex account.

Xzavyer Narvaez case of crypto scam

The arrest was first reported by Vice News’ Motherboard on August 17th, after the police wrapped up an investigation that resulted in the arrest of 19-year-old Xzavyer Narvaez.

The report published by Krebs on Security states that from March to June 2018 alone, Narvaez’s account on the popular cryptocurrency exchange, Bittrex processed about 157 BTC (over $1 million).

Xzavyer Narvaez is being accused of a total of seven counts of computer crimes, identity fraud, and grand theft.

The charges came after cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex and cryptocurrency payment provider BitPay gave internal records to US law enforcement.

According to the Californian police, Narvaez and other suspects already under arrest used the funds to buy items such as luxury sports cars.

Krebs on Security reports that Narvaez was connected to previously caught SIM swapper Joel Ortiz after law enforcement found that Ortiz had reportedly logged into Narvaez’s Gmail account.

During the investigation, the security operatives discovered that Narvaez had used a portion of the stolen Bitcoins to purchase a 2018 McLaren, paying partially with Bitcoin, through BitPay.

The 19-year-old was very plain about his ill found wealth, posting photographs of the cars he purchased on social media app Instagram.

Blockchain helped in the investigation

Lilia Infante, an agent working on the Cyber Investigative Task Force at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said she hoped cryptocurrencies remained in favor in criminal circles.

In a Bloomberg interview conducted earlier this month, Lilia noted that:

“The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people. I actually want them to keep using [cryptocurrencies].’’

The report stated that during the investigation, Bitcoin blockchain was used to “trace the flow of the bitcoins used to purchase the McLaren back to an address attributed to the cryptocurrency exchanger Bittrex”

SIM swapping is becoming a worrying trend

As already stated, Xzavyer Narvaez made away with millions using the SIM swapping scam, and Vice reports regarded the 19-year-old as “one of the best SIM swappers out there.”

The report suggests that Narvaez had performed as much as 28 SIM swaps were conducted using the same employee ID number over an approximately two-week time period in November 2017.

What is SIM swapping?

Sim swapping is increasing in popularity as one of the most performed scams, the technique is also known as “port out scam”.

The scam involves a hacker tricking a network provider into transferring details from a subscriber’s phone number to a SIM card controlled by the hacker.

When the hacker gets the information he needs, it can be used to reset the subscriber’s passwords and access an online account and various services tied to that phone number, which includes cryptocurrency wallets.

The Krebs On Security reports states that Narvaez had used the same device to commit the crimes multiple times.

In a related incident, a U.S. investor filed a $224 million lawsuit against telecoms giant AT&T over alleged negligence, that led to the theft of $24 million in cryptocurrency via cell phone account.

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