MIL-OSI Security: Portland Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Role in SIM Swapping Identity Theft and Fraud Scheme

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Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime Alerts (c)

PORTLAND, Ore.—A local man was sentenced to federal prison today for participating in a conspiracy to steal millions of dollars of cryptocurrency using a SIM swap scam technique that takes over victims’ cellular phone accounts to access sensitive personal information.

Daniel James Junk, 22, of Portland, was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release. He was also ordered to pay more than $3 million in restitution to his victims.

According to court documents, from at least December 2019 through March 2022, Junk engaged in an online fraud scheme known as SIM swapping to access and steal from his victims’ cryptocurrency exchange accounts. SIM swapping is a cellular phone account takeover scam technique where a victim’s incoming calls and text messages are routed to a different phone. Once a SIM is swapped, an individual may be able to gain access to a victim’s personal accounts including email accounts, cryptocurrency exchange accounts, and other accounts that use two-factor identification.

Junk actively participated in an online SIM-swapping community where various individuals would partner with one another to play different roles needed to successfully execute a SIM swap scam. Throughout his involvement in such schemes, Junk performed some aspects of all the required roles including finding victims to target through breached databases or other exploits, porting victim phone numbers to devices controlled by members of the fraud conspiracy, and physically possessing the phone used for the “swap.” Junk and members of his online community also coordinated with one another to plan and carry out various in-person crimes including attempting to steal a 90-year-old victim’s cell phone and committing fraud at cellular telephone stores.

On March 3, 2022, the FBI executed a federal search warrant on Junk’s apartment. Agents seized nearly all of Junk’s electronic equipment including a computer with an active browser showing that Junk was attempting to illegally access accounts in other people’s names when the agents arrived at his residence. The FBI seized more than 71 bitcoin worth approximately $3 million the day of the search. Two months later, Junk surrendered an additional 33 bitcoin worth approximately $1 million.

On March 15, 2023, Junk was charged by criminal information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and, on April 20, 2023, he waived indictment and pleaded guilty to the single charge.

In early January 2024, while awaiting sentencing, Junk was found by law enforcement to possess additional evidence of fraud including multiple victim target lists and approximately 25,000 compromised email addresses. On January 10, 2024, Junk’s release was revoked, and he was ordered into custody pending sentencing.

This case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Portland Police Bureau. It was prosecuted by Quinn P. Harrington, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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