On May 10, it was reported a California court awarded Michael Terpin nearly $76 million in a civil suit that he brought against Nicholas Truglia. Terpin, who is a noted investor in both digital currencies and blockchain technology, accused the 21-year-old Truglia of having defrauded him of a significant amount of digital assets.
Last week, the California Superior Court ordered Truglia to pay the award, which included both punitive and compensatory damages. Reportedly, the award is one of the largest an American court has ever issued in relation to digital currencies.
In late December of last year, Terpin filed the suit against Truglia. He did this after he filed a related lawsuit against AT&T over the summer. In that suit, he accused the telecommunications conglomerate of negligence, insisting that the company allowed Truglia to gain access to his phone number, which, in turn, let Truglia steal close to $25 million of digital currencies.
According to the lawsuits, Truglia and a number of others transferred Terpin's phone number over to them using a scheme known as SIM swapping. The scheme involves a scammer convincing a cell phone company to transfer the victim's phone number to a phone that they control. In this particular case, Terpin has alleged that Truglia used the scheme to both reset his passwords and gain access to Terpin's online accounts.
This is not the first time that Truglia has been accused of using SIM swapping to steal digital currencies. In November of last year, California authorities arrested the New York citizen for stealing $1 million in digital currencies from a different victim.
The use of SIM swapping to steal digital currencies has been increasing of late. On May 9, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a 15-count indictment against a group of 5 Americans and an Irishman. They accused the group, which is being called "The Community" of using SIM swapping to steal $2.5 million in digital currencies.
In the first quarter of this year alone, criminals stole $1.2 billion in digital currencies. This number represents 70% of cryptocurrency theft for the entire year in 2018.