An American cryptocurrency investor is suing a New York high school senior over the theft of $23.8m in digital currencies.
Michael Terpin has filed a civil complaint against 18-year-old Ellis Pinsky alleging that in 2018, at the tender age of 15, Pinsky masterminded a plot to defraud Terpin out of millions.
Pinsky was allegedly the leader of what Terpin described as a “gang of digital bandits” who stole from multiple victims after using SIM swapping to gain control of their smartphones.
None of the teen’s alleged co-conspirators were named in the complaint, in which Terpin accuses them and Pinsky of racketeering and computer fraud.
Terpin claims that, after hijacking the native wallet on his BlackBerry, Pinsky cockily bragged to his peers that he would get away with his cybercrime.
“On the surface, Pinsky is an ‘All American Boy,’” Terpin said in a complaint filed May 7 in a federal court in White Plains, New York. “The tables are now turned.”
In May last year, Terpin won a $75.8m civil judgement in a California state court in a related case against an alleged associate of Pinsky, Nicholas Truglia, who has faced criminal hacking charges. Now Terpin is gunning for Pinsky, seeking triple damages of $71.4m.
According to Reuters, court records show that Terpin is also suing his carrier AT&T Mobility in Los Angeles for $240m.
To his classmates at Irvington High School, Pinsky was an unremarkable individual who achieved decent grades and liked playing soccer.
At the time of the alleged crypto-heist, Pinsky was living in a $1.3m home he shared with his family. An anonymous insider told the New York Post that Pinsky explained his newfound wealth to his parents by saying that he had gotten lucky making Bitcoin online through video games.
The teen allegedly used the stolen money to travel by private jet, purchase an Audi R8, and splash out on the latest sneakers.
Pinsky’s attorney, Noam Biale, told the New York Post: “Ellis was a child at the time of the alleged conduct. . . . It is deeply unfortunate that Mr. Terpin has chosen to bring [a] lawsuit, full of smears and baseless allegations, for no imaginable purpose other than spite.”