The Department of Justice has charged three individuals for their involvement in a SIM-swap scam that saw $400 million being stolen from the now-defunct FTX exchange.
The court documents only labeled the victim of the scam as “Victim Company-1,” a Bloomberg report confirmed it to be FTX.
FTX filed for bankruptcy in November 2022, just hours later the crypto exchange was hacked and almost half a billion in cryptocurrency was siphoned from accounts.
The US federal prosecutor charged three individuals In January 2024, but the mystery company that suffered the losses was only recently revealed to be FTX. According to the court documents accessed by Bloomberg , Robert Powell, Carter Rohn, and Emily Hernandez, carried out SIM-swap attacks and stole the identities of 50 victims between March 2021 and April 2023.
At the time of the hack, news reports of mishandled customer funds had already surfaced, leading to the eventual collapse of FTX and a subsequent domino effect on the crypto market.
The US Justice Department launched a probe into the FTX hack following the events of November 2022. FTX General Counsel Ryne Miller reportedly tweeted at the time, in a since-deleted post, that his company was “investigating abnormalities with wallet movements”.
The initial wallet transactions were identified by users on Twitter, who called out the unusual movements.
Multiple employees told Twitter user, @zachxb, who describes himself as “Rug pull survivor turned 2D detective”, that they did not recognize the transactions.
Following the hack, Bankman-Fried himself speculated that it may have been an employee. However, the recent indictment document reveals that it was not an inside job. The court document filed in January revealed charges against three people—Robert Powell, Carter Rohn, and Emily Hernandez for conspiring with each other to carry out fraudulent SIM swap attacks.
The accused individuals, known as the “Powell SIM Swapping Crew,” are accused of manipulating mobile carriers to reassign victims’ phone numbers to their own devices. This enabled them to intercept crucial authentication messages, facilitating the unauthorized withdrawal of substantial funds from the victims’ financial accounts.
According to the indictment, members of the group recruited others to join the scheme. The female co-conspirator Emily Hernandez was allegedly recruited to perform SIM swaps of female victims.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and former CEO of the fallen cryptocurrency exchange, is currently facing sentencing for the misappropriation of as much as $10 billion of customer funds. Bankman-Fried’s sentencing is due on March 28th 2024.