Two men have been arrested from Oklahoma City in connection with the Crowd Machine hacking incident last week. The suspects have allegedly stolen cryptocurrency worth $ 14 million.
Swift Action by Agencies
In what has been a breakthrough in the Crowd Machine hacking case reported earlier this week by Live Bitcoin News, two men suspected of being behind the crime have been arrested by the Oklahoma police.
The suspects, identified as Fletcher Robert Childers, 23, and Joseph Harris, 21, both from Missouri, were arrested at a west side hotel on Monday, September 24th.
As per the documents filed in the court, it is believed that the suspects executed a SIM swap by stealing the victim’s phone number and identity.
The Sequence of Events
Crowd Machine, a San Jose, California-based blockchain company, had revealed details about the incident on September 22nd. The firm was prompt in informing law enforcement, and trading of the native CMCT token was immediately suspended on most exchanges. Following the incident, the value of the CMCT token has dropped by almost 87%.
According to the company, 500 million tokens had been released to the market while 1.5 billion were held in reserve. After the incident, the hackers had apparently transferred 1 billion tokens to different exchanges.
Craig Sproule, Crowd Machine CEO and founder, via a blog post, informed people that purchases of stolen tokens by those not involved with the theft would be honored and that the company would notify the investors when trading resumes. Sproule added:
The criminal investigation is ongoing, so we’re not in a position to comment other than to confirm that two arrests have been made. We’ve been working closely with law enforcement agencies to help with the ongoing investigation.
According to the search warrant affidavit:
The victim, who had $14 million stolen by the occupant of the hotel room has also been receiving taunting e-mails from the suspect. The suspect is also actively laundering the cryptocurrency through several different exchanges, some of which are not located in the United States.
How the Investigations Led to the Suspects
Once investigators established that a phone was used for the hacking incident, they were able to track the handset to Oklahoma City’s west side. Equipped with this information, an investigator with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office and member of the state’s REACT (Regional Enforcement Allied Computer Team) contacted the Oklahoma City U.S. Secret Service field office on September 24th.
The device used in the crime was tracked to an area near the SpringHill Suites hotel. U.S. Secret Service agents found that the mobile phone was purchased at a nearby Walmart, and CCTV footage showed two white males visiting the store, with one buying the phone on September 18th.
The video footage also showed a suspect vehicle registered in the name of Childers. A hotel room was booked by Harris on September 17th, with a check-out date of the 25th.
The trail of evidence led to the arrest of Childers and Harris based on the Santa Clara County warrants with charges of grand theft, identity theft, and computer intrusion.
The quick and swift response by law enforcement, in this case, should serve as a reminder to cybercriminals that if technology can be used by them to commit crimes, it can also help track them down.
What steps, in your opinion, should be taken by companies like Crowd Machine to protect their assets? Let us know in the comments below.
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