A UK-based hacker Joseph O’Connor with the pseudonym PlugwalkJoe has received an imprisonment sentence from a court in the United States. The person has been convicted of crypto theft due to which the court has ordered a 5-year imprisonment. The conviction roots back to his engagement in a SIM swap exploit that targeted a prominent crypto exchange executive.
Crypto Exploiter PlugwalkJoe Gets a 5-Year Imprisonment Penalty for a SIM Swap Hack
As per the reports, the exploit was carried out back in 2019’s April. The respective incident reportedly paved the way for the theft of digital assets having a value of nearly $794,000. Initially, the authorities in Spain arrested PlugwalkJoe. Nonetheless, afterward, the US officials extradited him to the United States on the 26th of April this year for his trial. In May 2023, he filed a guilty plea and demonstrated his full cooperation with the officials.
For additional clarification, the nature of a SIM swap exploit is that of a cyber-attack. It is an exploit where the hackers deceitfully get control of the phone number of the victim. They do this by misleading the mobile carrier. Following that, the hackers can circumvent the two-factor authentication along with getting access to the sensitive information of the victim. The respective information takes into account the private data of the victim’s financial accounts.
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The United States Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York stressed the seriousness of the penalty announced by the court for the exploiter in its official statement that was released on the 23rd of this month. Apart from the imprisonment sentence, the court order also includes a 3-year supervised release.
In addition to this, as mentioned in the statement, the court also implemented a huge fine on the convicted person. The fine to be paid by PlugwalkJoe equals up to $794,000. Though the targeted crypto executive’s identity has not been disclosed up till now, O’Connor effectively performed the SIM swap exploit on him.
This illegal trick permitted the exploiter to get unapproved access to diverse computer systems and accounts linked to the crypto exchange where that executive was working. In the statement, it was noted that several deceptive operations were carried out by O’Connor as well as his collaborators after illegally acquiring the exploited crypto assets. The purpose of these activities was to launder money.
The statement added that, via many transactions, the exploiters deliberately masked the roots of the illegally acquired cryptocurrency. Moreover, a proportion of the swindled crypto assets was transformed into the top crypto token Bitcoin. This was done by taking benefit of the services provided by the crypto exchanges. The respective conversion procedure permitted the culprits to further mask the track of the illegitimately acquired assets.
The Hacker Also Participated in a Twitter Hack Back in 2020
The statement brought to the front that a huge amount of swindled crypto assets was trailed back to a crypto exchange account that was under the control of O’Connor. This disclosure additionally points toward his straight engagement in illegal operations. Along with his engagement in the crypto exploitation, the sentence announced for O’Connor also covers the exploiter’s involvement in the Twitter hack that was carried out back in 2020’s July.
During the respective event, the exploiter and his group acquired illegal crypto gains of almost $120,000 worth. The reports point out that O’Connor also endeavored to threaten a person on Snapchat by potential disclosure of the private messages thereof unless the respective party would promote the online persona of PlugwalkJoe.