At 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon in January 2018, Michael Terpin was on his laptop, prepping for a conference in Las Vegas. His iPhone buzzed with an incoming message. Google was notifying him that his e-mail passcode had been changed.
Terpin hadn’t changed it.
Fearing he’d been hacked, the 62-year-old tech entrepreneur checked a second phone, an old Blackberry, to see if it had been compromised. The Blackberry was crippled, unable to go online or receive calls.
Within 10 minutes, Terpin contacted AT&T to demand that his Blackberry account be shut down. It was a race against time to stop a group of cyber-bandits. The group’s goal? To steal millions of dollars in virtual cash that Terpin, a pioneer in the field of cryptocurrency, had amassed and stashed online.
Within 30 or so minutes, as Terpin frantically searched through some 50 crypto accounts to confirm they were secure, the thieves struck gold on one that he had yet to check. “An asset worth $23.8 million, accrued over about two years, was taken from me,” Terpin told The Post. “Now it’s gone.”
Terpin was the victim of a cutting-edge scam known as SIM swapping. Tech-smart thieves managed to swap Terpin’s digital identity remotely from the SIM card that controlled his Blackberry to a blank SIM card in one of their phones.