Cryptocurrency Theft Triggers $224M Lawsuit Against AT&T

AT&T ATT

A bitcoin investor is suing AT&T for $240m after it allegedly ported his phone number to a hacker, allowing the criminal to steal $24m in cryptocurrency.

Terpin now wants AT&T, which he considers the sole responsible party for the attack, to give him the $24 million back, as well as pay him an additional $200 million as punitive damages.

Michael Terpin believes that he became the victim of a theft in which a large amount of digital currency was taken from him due to the company's negligence.

According to Terpin's motifs, AT&T had been warned by the law enforcement that such frauds might occur.

SIM swapping consists of tricking a provider into transferring a subscriber's phone number to a SIM card controlled by someone else.

As a result, the hackers allegedly were able to access Terpin's personal accounts in early January through AT&T - his service provider - and make off with nearly $24 million in cryptocurrency coins. That being the case, it's not terribly surprising that a prominent crypto investor who lost almost $24 million in stolen tokens is suing AT&T for a whopping $224 million.

On both occasions, the first Terpin knew of the hack was when his phone went dead.

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The second hack came even after AT&T agreed to put an additional passcode on his account, when a fraudster visited an AT&T store in CT and managed to hijack Terpin's account without providing the code or a "scannable ID" as AT&T requires, he says. However, any solution which could be comprised by SIM swap fraud is evidently not secure enough. SIM stands for subscriber identification module, and SIM cards are used to authenticate subscribers on mobile phones.

You can also ask your phone company to put additional passwords on your account, though that may not always help if an employee doesn't follow procedures or is even in cahoots with the criminals.

The insane part is that all of the above happened 5 months before the $24 million theft took place.

Many do not have the technical knowledge required to set up totally secure paper wallets.

There are several elements in the lawsuit that suggest Terpin's lawsuit may not have the tightest legal case, including a colorful but somewhat meandering and irrelevant legal argument in which SIM swap fraud is called a "metastasizing cancer" and AT&T's security a "modern-day Maginot line". Terpin claims that after the initial breach, he was promised "the highest level of security for his account".

When reached for comment, AT&T director for corporate communications Jim Greer told CoinDesk that "we dispute these allegations and look forward to presenting our case in court".

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