A Brooklyn man has been charged by Manhattan authorities with 87 counts of identity theft, grand larceny, and other criminal activities, the New York Post reports. The charges stem from an alleged SIM-card scheme that involved hijacking access to more than a dozen people’s phones across 20 states from January 20 to May 19, 2019.
According to reports, 19-year-old Yousef Selassie engaged in a “sophisticated SIM-swapping scheme” that gave him access to his victims’ personal information via their cell phones:
He allegedly transferred his victims’ phone numbers to his own iPhones, enabling him to reset their passwords and gain access to their Gmail, cryptocurrency and other accounts. Meanwhile, his victims’ phones would suddenly go offline.
Officials have alleged that the $1 million in stolen cryptocurrency was taken from two of his victims. Reports suggest that he targeted his victims based on their job industries. Assistant DA James Vinocur said that the defendant apparently assumed that executives in certain types of industries were more inclined to hold digital assets.
Selassie’s New York apartment was reportedly searched back in June. After that search, he moved to California. He was arrested earlier this month in Corona, CA and arraigned yesterday after being extradited back to New York. Selassie entered a plea of not guilty and was released in accordance with an existing supervised release program until his scheduled January 10 hearing.