20-year-old thief uses high-tech ‘SIM-swapping’ skills to steal $500K in just 10 days

An Ohio man has pleaded not guilty to dozens of criminal counts related to allegations that he victimized more than 50 people in a ‘SIM-swapping’ scheme that netted him roughly $500,000 in fraudulent gains.

According to the New York Post, 20-year-old Dawson Bakies appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court in New York this week where he was presented with charges including multiple counts of identity theft, grand larceny and computer trespass.

Prosecutors are describing the case as the state’s first effort to pursue charges related to SIM swapping, which allegedly allowed Bakies to access bank and cryptocurrency information remotely from his mother’s home in Columbus. Three of his alleged victims reside in Manhattan, according to statements from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

The alleged scheme began in October and lasted for less than two weeks, netting him a half million in ill-gotten dollars.

Investigators believe that one of his methods involved portraying himself as his victim in phone calls customer service representatives. After convincing the employees that he was someone else, they allegedly provided personal information that gave him control of data stored on the victims’ cellphones.

As ABC News reported, this type of criminal fraud has risen with the proliferation of bitcoin and other financial accounts maintained via smartphone.

“This isn’t a new type of fraud, per se, but it has certainly become more popular as crypto-currency has become more widely adopted,” explained the head of the cyber-crime bureau for the D.A.’s office.

Elizabeth Roper added that cryptocurrency users “often access those funds using information that is one their cell phones.”

Police reports allege he also used a threat to take down another person’s Google profile if the victim did not pay a ransom he demanded in bitcoin.

Attorney Harlan Greenberg said Bakies’ defense team needs “an opportunity to review the indictment and take a look at the evidence before we can determine what we’re gong to do.”

[Featured image: Pixabay]