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Ontario youth arrested, charged in $46M cryptocurrency theft

A Hamilton youth has been arrested in connection with a large digital currency theft estimated to be around $46 million, according to police.

The joint investigation, which dates back to March 2020, involves the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the United States Secret Service, which probed a cryptocurrency theft from a victim located in the United States.

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Investigators say the fraud is tied to account takeovers targeting security weaknesses in two-step verification protocols used in mobile phones.

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“The victim had been targeted by a SIM swap attack, a method of hijacking valuable accounts by manipulating cellular network employees to duplicate phone numbers so threat actors can intercept two-factor authorization requests,” Hamilton police (HPS) said in a release on Thursday.

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“As a result of the SIM swap attack, approximately $46 million (CAD) worth of cryptocurrency was stolen from the victim.”

HPS says the incident is the biggest cryptocurrency theft reported from one person in Canada.

Investigators say the suspect was tracked down after some of the digital currency was used to purchase a rare username in a gaming community.

The youth, whose name cannot be revealed under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is facing a charge for theft over $5,000 and possession of property obtained by crime.

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