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Two Canadian Teens Charged for Impersonating Coinbase Support to Steal $4.2m in Crypto

Source: Donald Tong / Pexels

A pair of teens from Hamilton, Canada, was recently arrested and charged with theft and possession of criminally obtained property after the authorities managed to trace $4.2 million in Bitcoin and Ethereum back to them. 

The two individuals in question are both seventeen-year-old boys who defrauded a US investor by pretending to be Coinbase customer support.

The authorities identified the scammers as two Canadian boys

According to the authorities, the pair conducted a type of scam known as the spear phishing attack. This is a type of phishing attack that targets specific individuals, whereas regular phishing attacks are typically more general, targeting a specific group, such as any employee of a specific company.

During spear phishing attacks, the attackers typically try to present themselves as a trusted source, which is trying to contact the target regarding something urgent. Their real goal is to extract information that could lead to their financial or other benefit. 

So, after falsely presenting themselves as Coinbase support, the two teens tried to obtain information that would allow them to compromise the victim’s account and crypto portfolio.

Needless to say, the teens were successful in robbing the US investor. After obtaining the money, some of it was used to purchase the Instagram handle “@Zombie.”

This is a username that is commonly sought-after in the gaming community. The teens used other aliases, including Felon and Gaze.

The local report states that the investigation started in June, and the massive amount in question was large enough for the FBI and the United States Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force to get involved. Working together, the two agencies identified the culprits, who were then arrested.

A deeper investigation discovered that this was likely not their first successful scam, as the two 17-year-olds had as much as $13.4 million in cryptocurrency.

Authorities are fighting back against the rising crypto crime

The increased adoption of the crypto market means that more and more people are handling crypto without taking proper security precautions. Sometimes, even taking the right precautions ends up being insufficient. Every month, there is at least one incident involving a multimillion-dollar crypto heist.

As the adoption continues, the crypto prices are expected to grow higher, which would likely incentivize more hackers and scammers to try their luck and skill by stealing some.

Of course, the authorities have also responded to this increase by launching several initiatives to stop them or at least identify the guilty parties. 

Earlier this year, in February, the FBI created a Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit that joined forces with the Justice Department’s National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team.

Together, they intend to focus on crypto-related crimes specifically due to their surge in number and severity.

Then, in June 2023, the US authorities established another task force to investigate Arizona's crypto and darknet crimes. 

The new task force consists of no less than five federal enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Arizona, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the Office for US Attorneys, the Postal Inspection Service, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The agencies have been in tight cooperation in Arizona since 2017, and since then, they have busted multiple drug trafficking cases, some of which have been quite high-profile.

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