Inside a violent gang’s brutal crypto-theft home invasion spree

Date:

She refused to give up her password, and according to prosecutors, she was so frustrated by the earlier hacking that most of her money was stolen that she told the men to shoot her. Instead, they stole her engagement ring, two iPhones, a laptop, the charger for a neurostimulator used by another household member to treat Parkinson’s disease and whatever cash they could find, and then left.

For their next victim, prosecutors explain how the group targeted a man whom Seemungal knew as a fellow SIM swapping hacker and whom they believed had actually robbed a large sum of cryptocurrency from him in 2021. To prepare for that robbery in September 2022, they began sending repeated pizza deliveries in hopes of luring their target into coming to their door without arousing suspicion. However, when the moment for their planned robbery arrived, their target was not home, so they instead laid in wait, then pointed guns at their target when their target arrived at home.

Over the next hour, the group tied their victim’s hands behind his back with bootlaces and demanded he give them access to his crypto accounts. When the account he gave them access to only contained a small amount of crypto, they forced him into the backseat of his rented Cadillac, slammed their guns into his face, drove off, and began extorting his friends and father for crypto payments. Eventually, about 120 miles from their victim’s home, the men pulled their victim out of the car and told him to kneel. He fled instead, as one of the men fired a gun from the moving car, although it’s unclear whether the shot was intended to kill the victim or simply scare him. One of the group — who has not yet been charged — later said that St. Felix had suggested they kill their captive.

A few months later, prosecutors wrote, the group carried out its next attack against another victim they believed was a wealthy crypto-focused hacker, this time in Texas. On a road trip from Florida to begin surveillance of their target, St. Felix had fled law enforcement in Louisiana, flipped his car at speeds of more than 90 mph, and broke his leg. Other members of the Florida crew were arrested after that accident. The burglary was therefore carried out by a newly recruited team based in the Houston area.

Days before Christmas 2022, this Texas gang broke into their target’s home, bound his family members’ hands with zip ties and repeatedly punched him in the face, demanding he give them access to his cryptocurrency. Prosecutors say they also shoved knives and forks under his mother’s nails and hit her in the face with a gun. They burned their target’s hand with a hot iron to force him to hand over his crypto account details and at one point even tried to punch him in his genitals.

The victim eventually told his tormentors that he had buried a device storing his cryptocurrency in the backyard. (In reality, that hardware wallet, containing $1.4 million in crypto, was in a moving box in the house that the thieves never found.) When the thieves brought their victim into the backyard to locate the device, he climbed over a fence and fled. The thieves stole $150,000 in cash and some jewelry, then left.

one last job

In early 2023, after those relatively unsuccessful extortion attempts, an associate of Seemungal allegedly began making tips to the group, hacking the emails of potential targets to see the size of their crypto holdings and sending those clues to the home invasion crew. A Telegram chat obtained by prosecutors shows a discussion of potential targets, including a man in Texas with $1.2 million and another in Tennessee with $600,000.

Screenshot of text communication between hackers

Screen capture of the group’s Telegram chat, in which they were discussing potential targets. Here the term “lik” is used to mean the target of a robbery.

Courtesy of the Department of Justice

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:

Subscribe

spot_imgspot_img

Popular

More like this
Related