Thursday 24 October 2019

Man (20) wanted in US for alleged role in $2.4m cryptocurrency fraud

A Dublin man is in Garda custody after US law enforcement agencies alleged he is part of a hacking group, known as ‘The Community’, allegedly involved in a massive $30m (€26.7m) cryptocurrency fraud. Stock photo
A Dublin man is in Garda custody after US law enforcement agencies alleged he is part of a hacking group, known as ‘The Community’, allegedly involved in a massive $30m (€26.7m) cryptocurrency fraud. Stock photo
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

A Dublin man is in Garda custody after US law enforcement agencies alleged he is part of a hacking group, known as 'The Community', allegedly involved in a massive $30m (€26.7m) cryptocurrency fraud.

Conor Freeman (20), from Glenageary, south Dublin, has been named in a court in Michigan.

He was arrested at his home on Thursday by Garda officers and taken before the High Court where he was remanded in custody until May 22.

Mr Freeman and five others have been indicted on 15 counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The indictments relate to seven online attacks that resulted in the theft of cryptocurrency valued at about $2,416,352.

US authorities claim that The Community has been involved overall in identity thefts to steal $30m in cryptocurrencies. During a brief extradition appearance where details of his arrest and charges were read out, Mr Freeman indicated he understood the charges.

Garda officers from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, members of the Criminal Assets Bureau and the extradition section from Garda HQ have been working with US agencies on the case for several weeks.

During the raid on Mr Freeman's house, gardaí seized two computers, mobile phones, a passport, €3,800 in cash, three watches and documentation relating to passwords for cryptocurrency electronic wallets.

The other defendants are from Florida, Iowa, New York, Missouri and Connecticut.

According to the indictment presented to the court in Michigan, the defendants are members of The Community and are alleged to have participated in thefts of victims' identities in order to steal cryptocurrency via a method known as SIM hijacking.

The indictment was announced by US attorney Matthew Schneider and Angie Salazar, acting special agent in charge, from the US immigration and customs enforcement's homeland security investigations based in Detroit.

According to a statement issued by Mr Schneider, SIM hijacking is an identity theft technique that exploits a common cyber security weakness - mobile phone numbers.

The indictment alleges that when The Community gained control of a victim's phone number, it was leveraged as a gateway to secure control of accounts, such as an email, cloud storage and cryptocurrency exchange accounts.

The US statement said that the defendants in the case were presumed innocent.

Irish Independent

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