A citizen of Singapore has been charged in the United States for a large-scale cryptocurrency mining operation performed using stolen identity and credit card information.
The 14-count indictment alleges that the man, Ho Jun Jia, also known as Matthew Ho, 29, ran the illegal crypto-mining scheme between October 2017 and February 2018, following the increase in popularity and value of virtual coins.
Ho is said to have propelled the scheme mainly through fraud and identity theft. He allegedly opened accounts at various U.S. cloud service providers, using the stolen identity and credit card data of a prominent California video-game developer. He then used these accounts to mine for crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The indictment also claims that Ho created a web of phony email accounts and that he employed social engineering to trick cloud computing providers into approving “heightened account privileges, increased computer processing power and storage, and deferred billing.”
The crypto-currency obtained using this computing power was then exchanged for traditional funds on various online marketplaces.
According to the indictment, Ho consumed over $5 million in unpaid cloud computing services during the period the operation was active. For a short while, he was one of Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) largest consumers of data by volume.
Before the scheme was uncovered, the California game developer’s financial staff paid some of the generated bills.
In addition to AWS accounts, the defendant opened accounts with Google Cloud Services using the identities of a Texas resident and the founder of a tech company in India and used them as part of his crypto-currency mining operation.
Ho was arrested in Singapore on September 26, 2019, and is being investigated for alleged offenses he committed under Singapore law.
If found guilty, Ho faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and up to ten years in prison for access device fraud, while aggravated identity theft could get him a mandatory two years in prison to run consecutive to any other sentence imposed in the case, the Department of Justice explains.
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