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How A Crew Of Fraudsters Allegedly Stole $19 Million Worth Of IPhones

Six people are being charged in New York with conspiracy, mail fraud and identity theft over allegedly stealing $19 million worth of devices, chiefly Apple iPhones. These people were reportedly at the head of a large, organized effort to purchase phones on contracts that were fraudulently signed using stolen identities. The gambit ran for some seven years.

How a crew of fraudsters allegedly stole $19 million worth of iPhones

A gang in New York allegedly spent the past seven years using the ripped-off identities of cellphone subscribers to steal $19 million worth of iPhones, according to a now-unsealed complaint originally filed by federal prosecutors at the end of April 2019.

Of course, this isn't the first time an iPhone scam has been conducted, but it may be the largest yet theft in terms of value the devices stolen. A very similar scam was busted last year where a group was accused of stealing more than 1,300 iPhones worth more than $1 million. Separately, two Chinese students in the US state of Oregon allegedly duped Apple out of nearly $1 million in iPhone replacements. The scam began in 2017 when engineering students Yangyang Zhou and Quan Jiang started smuggling fake copies of iPhones from China to the US. Later they would send the iPhones for repair or replacement, claiming that their (fake) devices were not switching on. In many cases, Apple replaced the fake goods with real iPhone units, which cost the company an estimated $895,800, the report said.

Theft also occurs at sites where bitcoins are used to purchase illicit goods. In late November 2013, an estimated US$100 million in bitcoins were allegedly stolen from the online illicit goods marketplace Sheep Marketplace, which immediately closed.[47] Users tracked the coins as they were processed and converted to cash, but no funds were recovered and no culprits were identified.[47] A different black market, Silk Road 2, stated that during a February 2014 hack, bitcoins valued at $2.7 million were taken from escrow accounts.[48]

Sites where users exchange bitcoins for cash or store them in "wallets" are also targets for theft., an Australian wallet service, was hacked twice in October 2013 and lost more than $1 million in bitcoins.[49] GBL, a Chinese bitcoin trading platform, suddenly shut down on 26 October 2013; subscribers, unable to log in, lost up to $5 million worth of bitcoin.[50] In late February 2014 Mt. Gox, one of the largest virtual currency exchanges, filed for bankruptcy in Tokyo amid reports that bitcoins worth US$350 million had been stolen.[51] Flexcoin, a bitcoin storage specialist based in Alberta, Canada, shut down in March 2014 after saying it discovered a theft of about $650,000 in bitcoins.[52] Poloniex, a digital currency exchange, reported in March 2014 that it lost bitcoins valued at around $50,000.[53]In January 2015 UK-based bitstamp, the third busiest bitcoin exchange globally was hacked and US$5 million in bitcoins were stolen.[54] February 2015 saw a Chinese exchange named BTER lose bitcoins worth nearly $2 million to hackers.[55]

A major bitcoin exchange, Bitfinex, was hacked and nearly 120,000 bitcoins (around US$60 million) was stolen in 2016. Bitfinex was forced to suspend its trading. The theft was the second-largest bitcoin heist ever, dwarfed only by the Mt. Gox theft in 2014. According to Forbes, "All of Bitfinex's customers,... will stand to lose money. The company has announced a cut of 36.067% across the board."[56] Following the hack the company refunded customers.[citation needed] In 2022, the US government recovered 94,636 bitcoin (worth approximately $3.6 billion at the time of recovery) from the 2016 thefts of the Bitfinex exchange. By February 2022, the amount of bitcoin stolen was worth $4.5 billion.[57] Two people were charged for the thefts.[58]

A phishing website to generate private IOTA wallet seed passphrases, and collected wallet keys, with estimates of up to US$4 million worth of MIOTA tokens stolen. The malicious website operated for an unknown amount of time and was discovered in January 2018.[94]

National Registration Department of Malaysia Data Breach: A group of hackers claimed to hold the personal details of 22.5 million Malaysians stolen from myIDENTITI API, a database that lets government agencies like the National Registration Department access information about Malaysian citizens. The hackers were looking for $10,000 worth of Bitcoin for the data.


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