AT&T sued for negligence over cryptocurrency hack

Michael Terpin

Terpin has also accused AT&T's staff members of being involved in a SIM swap fraud, which allowed the hackers to steal digital currency from his crypto wallet. A SIM card, or subscriber identification module, helps authenticate an individual's mobile phone. Such a scam involves fraudsters convincing a mobile phone provider to switch a user's phone number to another SIM card which is under their control. Supposedly, the phone number was used later on to access the cryptocurrency holdings of Terpin.

Terpin says he was a prime target because of his "publicized involvement in cryptocurrency enterprises".

In an emailed response, an AT&T spokesman said: "We dispute these allegations and look forward to presenting our case in court".

"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 65-page court document reads.

He declined to elaborate on the company's objections to the allegations.

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The complaint seeks to paint a picture of corruption and negligence on behalf of the prominent telecommunications company, which he alleges has "become too big to care".

AT&T was his service provider, which could not shield the data in his cellphone and that led to a "digital identity theft" as hackers swiped $24 million in cryptocurrencies from his account. Although it appears to have failed to implement its own security requirements - if we take Terpin's account of the theft to be entirely accurate - AT&T's lawyers will no doubt argue that it can not be held responsible for everything that happens subsequently.

Michael Terpin is suing the phone giant [PDF] for the value of the three million electronic coins plus $216m in punitive damages after he claims an AT&T employee at a store in CT agreed, in person, to transfer his personal phone number to a new SIM card, despite the account having "high risk" protection following an earlier hacking effort.

The complaint also stated that this was not the first time that Terpin's account was hacked.

Terpin co-founded the first angel group for bitcoin investors, BitAngels, in early 2013, and the first digital currency fund, the BitAngels/Dapps Fund, in March 2014.

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