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Crypto scammer faces 18 months in prison over $22 million SIM attack

Nicholas Truglia allegedly helped a plot to swipe cryptocurrency.
Representation of Bitcoin is seen with binary code displayed on a laptop screen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on August 17, 2021. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Jon Fingas
Jon Fingas|@jonfingas|December 2, 2022 12:23 PM

A young man is facing time behind bars for his role in a high-profile crypto scam. Bloomberg reports a federal judge has sentenced 25-year-old Nicholas Truglia to 18 months in prison for allegedly taking part in a scheme that stole $22 million in cryptocurrency from blockchain adviser Michael Terpin in 2018. The perpetrators are said to have asked Truglia to convert Triggers tokens stolen from Terpin into Bitcoin after breaching the consultant's phone.

Truglia has been described as a member of a larger criminal group that relied heavily on SIM swapping, or transferring victim phone numbers to SIM cards under attackers' control, to rob crypto industry personalities. Terpin accused a New York State teen of leading the group following a private investigation and successfully recouped some of his losses. The teen pointed to Truglia and two other people as accomplices.

Truglia is the only person in the group subject to criminal charges, and is already facing civil penalties near $80 million for his alleged involvement. The relatively light sentence appears to have been influenced by Truglia's autism, which defense attorney Jeffrey Udell claimed made it harder to understand the real-world consequences of the theft.

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This is far from the largest crypto heist in recent memory. State-backed hackers and online gangs have been linked to thefts worth hundreds of millions of dollars from the blockchain. The length of the sentence is unlikely to deter others, for that matter. However, the sentencing theoretically sends a message that aiding crypto thieves is still a serious crime.

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Crypto scammer faces 18 months in prison over $22 million SIM attack