A Singaporean citizen was recently charged with stealing the identities of US residents and using them to buy computing power to mine crypto. Ho Jun Jia, from Singapore, faces decades in prison if prosecuted for the crimes. The indictment alleges that Ho stole the identities of US residents living in Texas and California. Ho was arrested in Singapore on September 26, 2019. He is currently under investigation for various offenses that he might have committed under Singaporean law.
What the Indictments States
The indictment alleges that following the surge of cryptocurrency prices, Ho started a large-scale online scam that ran from October 2017 to February 2018. He stole the identities of US residents and used them to acquire computing power to mine cryptocurrencies. To achieve his goal, it is alleged that Ho stole the credit card details and identifying information of a renowned developer in California.
With the details, he purchased cloud-computing services from major providers of cloud computing services in the US, which he used to mine ETH, BTC, and other coins. Using various social engineering techniques, Ho was able to trick the cloud services providers into giving him more privilege, increased processing power, and more storage space. Additionally, he tricked them into deferring payments for the services they offered.
After mining the crypto coins, Ho moved them to various online marketplaces, where he sold them for fiat currencies. During the few months that he ran the scam, Ho used cloud services worth $5 million. For a short period, he was the largest consumer of Amazon Web Services by data volumes. Part of the bill was sent to the Californian game developer, where the staff paid the bill.
Shortly after that, his scam was exposed. Besides AWS, he also used the identity of a tech firm founder in India and a resident of Texas to buy Google Cloud Services. The services he bought were also used in his mining operation.
He Faces a Lengthy Prison Sentence
For the wire fraud alone, Ho could spend up to two decades in a US prison. The access device fraud could also see him spend another ten years behind bars while identity theft comes with a mandatory two-year jail term. In total, Ho might face up to 30 years in prison.
However, Ho has yet to have his day in court. For now, these are allegations. It is however unlikely he will avoid a lengthy jail sentence. After he is convicted in Singapore, he could later be shipped to the US to serve a prison sentence there.
It is worth noting that the indictment did not reveal the identities of his victims. The value of cryptocurrencies that Ho managed to mine at the time was also not revealed. However, it is safe to assume that he minted millions from his illegal operation, given the price of crypto at the time.
In the recent past, the justice department has been aggressively pursuing wrongdoers in the crypto space. This is one in a long line of cases that are being pursued by US officials relating to cryptocurrency.