Three individuals have been indicted for their involvement in an identity theft conspiracy and the subsequent $400 million hack from cryptocurrency exchange FTX. The alleged ringleader, Robert Powell, along with Carter Rohn and Emily Hernandez, have been charged with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and access device fraud. The scheme, which operated from March 2021 to April 2022, involved the co-conspirators traveling to cellphone retail stores in over 15 states.
According to the indictment, the trio obtained personal identifying information from more than 50 victims, created fake identification documents, and impersonated the victims to gain access to their online accounts. The scheme relied on swapping the Subscriber Identity Module of cell phone subscribers, allowing the conspirators to bypass multifactor authentication and access the victims' money.
While the indictment does not explicitly name FTX as the target of the conspiracy, the details described align with publicly known information about the hack on the exchange. It has been confirmed that FTX was indeed the victim mentioned in the indictment.
Former FTX Chief Sam Bankman-Fried, who was convicted in November 2023 of conspiracy and wire fraud charges related to stealing billions of dollars from customers, is currently awaiting sentencing.
The indictment states that on the same day FTX filed for bankruptcy protection, Powell instructed his co-conspirators to execute a SIM swap of an FTX employee's cellular telephone account. This allowed them to gain access to the employee's AT&T account and subsequently transfer over $400 million in virtual currency from FTX's wallets to wallets controlled by the co-conspirators.
Prior to the FTX hack, the scheme had already looted hundreds of thousands of dollars in virtual currency from other victims. The conspirators continued their theft spree even after the FTX hack, stealing an additional $590,000 in crypto from an individual's virtual wallet.