21-Year-Old Jailed for 10 Years After Stealing $7.5M in Crypto

A 21-year-old man in the United States has become one of the first people to be jailed for stealing cryptocurrencies. Prosecutors in Santa Clara, California announced via a press release that the 21 year old hacker, named Joel Ortiz has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to theft.

Ortiz is believed to be one of the first people in the US to be convicted of crypto theft. According to the press release by the Office of the District Attorney it was revealed that Ortiz had stolen funds from at least 40 victims amounting to more than $7.5 million US dollars, and that he subsequently spent it on extravagances:

‘’After his thefts, Ortiz spent his loot lavishly – including $10,000 nights at Los Angeles clubs, hiring a helicopter to bring him and some friends to a music festival, and on Gucci luggage and clothing.’’

The one-time high school valedictorian was described by the prosecutors as a ‘’prolific SIM swapper who targeted victims to steal cryptocurrency and to take over social media accounts with the goal of selling them for bitcoin.’’ The illegal SIM swap allowed Ortiz to bypass two factor authentication.

Prosecutor Erin West said of the crime, ‘’These are not Robin Hoods. These are crooks who use a computer instead of a gun. They are not just stealing some ethereal, experimental currency. They are stealing college funds, home mortgages, people’s financial lives.’’ Ortiz was detained at the Los Angeles International Airport last year, and investigators say they have only been able to recover $400,000 of the stolen funds. They believe the rest has either been hidden or spent.