A Hamilton teenager indicted last week as a billionaire cryptocurrency theft, allegedly stolen from a California-based businessman considered a Bitcoin pioneer.
Josh Jones lost $ 46 million in Bitcoin when he was attacked in the SIM swap attack in February 2020, The Spectator has confirmed with multiple sources.
Jones first reported the theft to the Los Angeles FBI, which later brought in other American and Canadian agencies as the investigation grew.
Authorities say this was the largest crypto theft by a single victim. Authorities have not said what role the 17-year-old from Hamilton allegedly played in the robbery, or if he had help.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office in the San Francisco Bay Area confirmed he became involved after his tech crime team received leads after news of the theft spread in law circles. cryptocurrencies.
Rumors about the theft had been circulating online since early 2020 after someone, suspect but not confirmed as Jones, posted it on Reddit. That post has since been removed, but many comments included criticism for leaving such a large amount of Bitcoin accessible on a phone.
A SIM swapping attack involves a perpetrator manipulating a cell phone operator to change a phone number to a SIM card they control. This gives the hacker access to the victim’s phone, where he can intercept two-factor authorizations and access accounts. The hacker can access everything from email, banking, social media, and a cryptocurrency wallet.
Jones has never commented on the theft, even in recent interviews he has given about his work and investments. He could not be reached for comment.
According to various interviews and profiles, in 1996 Jones co-founded DreamHost, a successful web host, with three fellow college students at Harvey Mudd College, a private university in California. In 2013, he sold his shares in that company, but has been involved in many other companies.
In 2010 he became one of the first investors in Bitcoin and has since amassed a fortune in the cryptocurrency. Other projects include starting a children’s book electronic publishing business, a California-based accelerator, and an investment firm. The theft of Bitcoin doesn’t seem to have slowed down his acquisitions – he recently bought an airline and has a production company that bought the animation rights to the Groo the Wanderer comic.
In a recent interview on the LA Venture podcast, he was dubbed the “richest, dumbest, most self-confident but seemingly normal person.”
In the 31-minute episode, he explains his “irrational self-confidence” that has led him to invest in companies or ideas that others see as too risky. He almost always thinks he’s right, despite his naysayers.
“Just the fact that everyone on earth thinks Bitcoin is crazy, and no one tells me why, doesn’t matter,” he says, recalling the year 2010 when he started mining Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is the best known cryptocurrency – a digital currency that uses blockchain technology that distributes transactions across multiple computers. The technology is considered more secure than traditional banking against piracy, yet police say thefts are on the rise. In this case, Bitcoin could be accessed on the victim’s phone.
American researchers found that some of the stolen cryptocurrency was used to purchase a unique online gambling name. That purchase is what led authorities to Hamilton. After tracing the purchase of the game name here, US authorities contacted Hamilton Police in March 2020 and the local cybercrime team began investigating the case.
Det. Const. Kenneth Kirkpatrick previously told The Spectator that Hamilton’s cybercrime unit was able to recover cryptocurrencies now valued at $ 7 million. It is unclear where the rest of Bitcoin ended up.
The Hamilton teen faces charges of theft of more than $ 5,000 and possession of property or property gains obtained by crime. You cannot be identified under the Juvenile Criminal Justice Act.
The value of Bitcoin has grown significantly since the beginning of 2020, so the stolen cryptocurrency would now be well above the initial 46 million Canadian dollars.
The Santa Clara DA office said it was a “very standard SIM swap.” What makes this case unique is the large amount of dollars that were stolen from one person. There are no pending charges in the US.
The Hamilton teenager is scheduled to be in court on Friday.
Nicole O’Reilly covers crime and justice for The Spectator. [email protected]