Michael Terpin, a businessman and crypto-investor, has launched a lawsuit against U.S. telecoms giant AT&T, alleging fraud and gross negligence after millions of dollars worth of digital assets were stolen from his wallets.
Terpin is the senior advisor to Alphabit, one of the world’s biggest crypto hedge funds, and co-founded both BitAngels, the world’s first Bitcoin investor angel group, and the BitAngels/Dapps Fund.
Filed in Los Angeles U.S. District Court, the complaint alleges that earlier this year Terpin was the victim of a “digital identity theft” which led to the loss of his tokens. Terpin holds his service provider, AT&T, responsible for the loss.
Greenberg Glusker, who are representing Terpin in the case, say that Terpin’s was victim to a “sim swap”. These occur when a cell phone service, such as AT&T, is tricked into transferring one of its customers’ number to a SIM card controlled by another party. Once that party receives the number, the customer’s passwords and online accounts may be accessed and reset.
The lawsuit alleges that Terpin’s account was transferred to an “international criminal gang” who then took control of his digital assets. The gang was able to gain access to the businessman’s information due to an AT&T “insider cooperating with the hacker.” According to Terpin’s lawyers, “what AT&T did was like a hotel giving a thief with a fake ID a room key and a key to the room safe to steal jewelry in the safe from the rightful owner.“
The three million tokens were worth $23.8 million at the time. Terpin is looking to be reimbursed this by AT&T, along with an extra $200 million in punitive damages. The plaintiff alleges that AT&T had already been warned by authorities about similar scams but had taken no action to protect its customers.
A spokesman for the telecoms company said, “We dispute these allegations and look forward to presenting our case in court.”
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