[ECONOMY] Hackers stole millions of Bitcoin from Michael Terpins electronic wallet. Read here exactly how they did it!

One tweeted: "Stole 24 million but can’t stay away from drugs".
And they flashed they got a lot of money.

At 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon in January 2018, Michael Terpin was on his laptop, prepping for a conference in Las Vegas. His iPhone buzzed with an incoming message. Google was notifying him that his e-mail passcode had been changed.

Terpin hadn’t changed it.

Fearing he’d been hacked, the 62-year-old tech entrepreneur checked a second phone, an old Blackberry, to see if it had been compromised. The Blackberry was crippled, ­unable to go online or receive calls.

Within 10 minutes, Terpin contacted AT&T to demand that his Blackberry account be shut down. It was a race against time to stop a group of cyber-bandits. The group’s goal? To steal millions of dollars in virtual cash that Terpin, a pioneer in the field of cryptocurrency, had amassed and stashed online.

Within 30 or so minutes, as Terpin frantically searched through some 50 crypto accounts to confirm they were secure, the thieves struck gold on one that he had yet to check. “An asset worth $23.8 million, accumulated over about two years, was taken from me,” Terpin told The Post and added “Now it’s gone.”

On image: Michael Terpin.

Terpin was the victim of a cutting-edge scam known as SIM swapping. Tech-smart thieves managed to swap Terpin’s digital identity remotely from the SIM card that controlled his Blackberry to a blank SIM card in one of their phones.

One crypto bandit spent $250,000 on a McLaren automobile, and Truglia talked about buying his own jet, as related in a court document.
They were, according to the investigator, “living like rappers in music videos.”

But for Truglia, the money didn’t bring only happiness and class.
After the Terpin heist he tweeted “Stole 24 million, but can’t stay away from drugs”­

On images: Nicholas Truglia, thief, to the left, and Joel Ortiz, read more about him later, standing in center, next to Mayor Marty Walsh, left, and then public schools Superintendent Tommy Chang in Boston. Ortez was a 'valedictorian' = a student, typically having the highest academic achievements of his class.

Quote: “Nobody can get me in trouble,”
“Nobody can put me in jail. I would bet my life on it, actually.”

And according to one person, Truglia scammed his own father out of $15,000 earlier,
and he also “took delight in cheating people” and did also “beat his small dog, hitting him with his fists and a broom stick”
— a charge Truglia of course denied to The Post. ­

He is now in jail.

Crypto’s signature qualities appeal to privacy advocates and thieves alike. Theft, said Brian Krebs, owner of the cyber-news site KrebsOnSecurity, is “irreversible.” What you lose, he said, you can’t get back.

Over the past 15 months, more than $50 million in cryptocurrency has been stolen from accounts like Terpin’s. He kept a portion of his virtual cash in a digital vault called a “native wallet,” which required a string of 12 random words to unlock. The hackers were able to cobble the code together once they hijacked his phone and wormed into his e-mail — both of which were shockingly easy to do.

“It begins with finding a target and his wireless carrier,” Terpin said. As he alleged in a court document, an employee in a Norwich, Connecticut, AT&T store had been induced to “port over my wireless number to an ­imposter with a new SIM card.”

One of the thieves then contacted Google and claimed to have forgotten his Gmail code. As is standard, Google texted a recovery code to the phone number on file — in this case, Terpin’s Blackberry, which the thieves now controlled.

They changed the code, freezing Terpin out. A cadre of confederates, communicating in an online chat room, ransacked Terpin’s ­e-mail, finding clues that led to everything from his Skype account to private databases containing personal information.

Seconds after breaking into Terpin’s wallet, the crew transferred $23.8 million into an online account they controlled. Forty-eight hours later, said Terpin, the thieves had laundered the crypto and presumably divvied up their haul.

“Your phone goes dead and theirs is alive,” Terpin said. “Then they own you.”
[ POLITICAL AVENUE REMARK: Own your credit balance and digital accounts, which is more correctly.]

One of Terpin’s key suspects in that multimillion-dollar takedown, according to a lawsuit he filed, is ­21-year-old Nicholas Truglia.

Truglia, who grew up in New Jersey, was, at the time of the hit, a registered student at Baruch College. (Late last year, weeks prior to his arrest, when being a suspect, he told The Post he was on “a leave of absence from Harvard.”) Either way, he hardly lived like an undergrad student.

His apartment in the Sky building overlooking the Hudson rented for $6,000 a month and a visitor named Chris David said Truglia piled stacks of $100 bills on a credenza. As David, a private-jet broker in his 20s, reported in a court document, “Nick told me that [the] bundle contained over $100,000. At the same time, Nick showed me two thumb drives. One had over $40 million cash value of various cryptos.”

On image: David said he took this photograph of a license Truglia had in his possession. The license includes Truglia's photograph, but the information is from a dead man.

In the same document, David claimed Truglia told him he made his fortune by stealing crypto, which for example explained his $100,000 Rolex. One night, in a crowded lounge, David stated in a court document, “[Truglia said], ‘Chris, I have more money than all the people here ­tonight.’ ”

The scams began to unravel in March 2018, after a Cupertino, California, executive named Mitch Liu lost $10,000 in cryptocurrency.

Though it was a relatively small sum, law enforcers at the Regional Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT), an investigative unit in Silicon Valley, were intrigued.

“We didn’t know how bad guys could convince a carrier to switch over a phone number,” said Samy Tarazi, a sergeant at the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office and a task-force supervisor with REACT. “We started following the [number] and realized that contact with the e-mail service had to connect to a cell tower somewhere.”

In Liu’s case, messages went from zipping around the Bay Area to pinging back and forth from a cell tower in Boston. But the area encompassed dozens of city blocks. “From there,” said Tarazi, “we found the IMEI [International Mobile Equipment Identity] number of the phone that AT&T had switched the SIM card [information] to.”

Every phone has a unique IMEI number just as every car has a unique VIN number. Most every online business records the number when it has contact with a customer. “We took the IMEI number used in the crime and cross-referenced it with Apple and Google,” Tarazi said. “We found it associated with an e-mail account used by Joel Ortiz,” then 18 and a school valedictorian. “We wanted to see where it would go, got the contents of his [e-mail] account and, basically, we had his life.” In other words, they did to the hacker what hackers did to their targets.

Tarazi and his team discovered that Ortiz lived with his mother in a modest Boston home, about a mile and a half from Harvard. Through Ortiz’s braggy social media posts, investigators tracked him down.

‘He was taking helicopter tours around Las Vegas, partying at fancy nightclubs in LA, staying at mansions in the Hollywood Hills.’

When Ortiz posted about plans to attend an EDM festival in Belgium, REACT decided to move in. They busted him at Los Angeles International Airport. He was easy to spot, dressed head-to-toe in Gucci. By the time Tarazi and his team finished interrogating Ortiz, the straight-A student was in tears, said the investigator.

Ortiz confessed and took a plea bargain of 10 years in prison, for stealing what Tarazi believes to be $5 million to $15 million in cryptocurrency. Since the start of 2018, five crypto bandits — all ages 18 to 26 — have been arrested, said Tarazi, who believes dozens more remain 'out there'.

Truglia is the latest to be brought down. REACT, working with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, arrested him in a raid at his Manhattan place last November. He was charged with stealing $1 million in cryptocurrency from a Bay Area retiree.

Terpin though, who reported his theft to federal investigators, is now suing both Truglia and AT&T. He’s going after the phone company for negligence and other claims to the tune of $224 million. “I am trying to get AT&T to change things,” Terpin said. “And I want criminals brought to justice.”

A representative for AT&T responded, “Mr. Terpin is wrong, and we have asked the court to dismiss his complaint.”

Truglia’s lawyer did not respond to requests for any comment.

As for what lies ahead, Sergeant Tarazi says he’s aware that the bandits now know his tracking methods. “They adapt, we adapt,” Tarazi said. “For the scam to work, though, someone still has to give up his location. And we’re on top of that.”

The criminals revenge on the internet:

On images: Sergeant Samy Tarazi gets his share back from the criminals on the net, obviously. Found this when searching on the net for a image of Samy Tarazi, the Sheriff's Sergeant.

POLITICAL AVENUE RECOMMENDATION: Difficult to tax and trace, cryptocurrencies has become the payment of choice for all kinds of criminals. Traffickers, hackers, kidnappers, drug dealers, weapon smugglers and gamblers. It should be outlawed, to destroy their businesses.

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