While cryptocurrency scams and lawsuits are usually based on “exit-scams” and outright frauds, Michael Terpin, a U.S.-based cryptocurrency investor, has filed a mammoth $224 million lawsuit against his telecom operator, citing the theft of digital tokens.
AT&T’s Identity Gamble
As reported by Reuters, Aug. 15, Terpin is holding telecommunications giant AT&T liable for gross negligence and fraud after discovering crypto thefts from his account.
Terpin first discovered the series of token thefts in January 2018 after his “digital identify” was stolen from his mobile phone provider. The entrepreneur further elaborated his sentiment in a 69-page complaint filing with the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, stating that AT&T’s poor handling of sensitive customer records is responsible for the ordeal.
Los Angeles-based law firm Greenberg Glusker is fighting the case on Terpin’s behalf and noted the investor’s phone number was promptly switched to an “international criminal gang” after the crypto theft.
In his complaint, Terpin cited the theft of digital tokens to a “SIM swap,” a popular fraud tactic used by criminals.
A SIM swap occurs when a criminal gains access to a subscriber’s SIM card by using fraudulent online or offline methods, which happens before tricking the SIM provider into transferring the victim’s phone number to another party.
After the swap, the person in possession of the victim’s number can access credit card information, online accounts, mobile banking and reset passwords.
Terpin claimed that $23.8 million worth of 3 million digital token units were stolen as a result of identity theft. In addition to seeking $200 million in punitive damages, he alleged that AT&T was involved in comparable frauds. Terpin was contacted by law enforcement officials in this regard.
Meanwhile, AT&T has maintained their innocence and said they “look forward to presenting our case in court.”
Terpin’s impressive bet in cryptocurrencies arose from his apparent belief in the digital asset class. The entrepreneur co-founded the popular Bitcoin investor group BitAngles in early 2013 as well as the dApps Fund in 2014. Terpin also advises the cryptocurrency hedge fund Alphabit, which raised over $300 million in 2017 to invest in the burgeoning asset sector.
Cover Photo by J de Gier on Unsplash