What has happened?
A Pennsylvania man has been indicted with taking part in a scheme to obtain cryptocurrencies and other money and property by fraud and extortion.
What does this mean?
According to the indictment, Anthony Francis Faulk, 23, allegedly targeted assets "owned and controlled by executives of cryptocurrency-related companies and cryptocurrency investors."
He and others are also said to have engaged in a "SIM swapping" scheme.
The indictment claims that Faulk and his co-conspirators used fraud, deception and "social engineering techniques" to induce representatives of cellphone service providers to "transfer or port" cellphone numbers from SIM cards in devices owned by victims to cards in devices possessed by the conspirators.
It is further alleged that after Faulk and his co-conspirators got control of the victims' cellphone numbers, they then used additional deceptive techniques to gain access to "email, electronic storage and other accounts of victims, and ultimately to cryptocurrency accounts of victims".
They are also alleged to have extorted victims of the SIM-swapping scheme.
The indictment charges Faulk with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of interstate communications with intent to extort.
Faulk is alleged to have used the proceeds from the SIM-swapping scheme to buy three cars, including a Ferrari, a house, jewellery, a Rolex watch and royalty rights in 20 songs.
If convicted of the charge for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Faulk could face a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, while the extortion charge carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail and a fine of $250,000.
Faulk was arrested on 11 December 2019 and has been released on a $250,000 bond.
He is due to appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge on 9 January 2020.
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