SEATTLE: A Singaporean has been charged with 14 counts of wire fraud, access device fraud and identity theft in Seattle, documents released by the US Department of Justice on Wednesday (Oct 9) revealed.
Ho Jia Jun, also known as Matthew Ho, 29, operated a scheme to mine cryptocurrencies using stolen computing power and services, obtained with the stolen identity and credit card account information of California and Texas residents.
According to the release, Ho was taken into custody by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Sep 26, 2019, and is also being investigated for “various alleged offenses committed under Singapore law”.
CRYPTOCURRENCY MINING OPERATION
Providing details on the case, US authorities said between October 2017 and February 2018, following a surge in popularity and the value of cryptocurrencies, Ho ran a cryptocurrency mining operation.
Ho allegedly used stolen identity and credit card information of a “prominent California video-game developer” to open cloud computing accounts at multiple US cloud service providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS).
The identities of a Texas resident and the founder of a tech company in India were also allegedly used to open cloud services accounts with Google Cloud Services.
He then used these accounts to mine various cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, which he subsequently sold on marketplace websites, said the DOJ.
Some of the bills incurred were paid by the California game developer’s financial staff before the fraud was detected.
Ho also allegedly used fake email accounts and “social engineering” in order to trick cloud computing providers to approve heightened account privileges, increased computer processing power and storage, and deferred billing.
According to the DOJ, for the duration of Ho’s scheme, he consumed more than US$5 million in unpaid cloud computing services with his mining operation and, for a brief period, was one of AWS’ largest consumers of data usage by volume.
Ho was charged with 8 counts of wire fraud, 4 counts of access device fraud and 2 counts of aggravated identity theft related.
In the US, Ho can be jailed for up to 20 years for wire fraud, jailed for up to 10 years for access device fraud, and for aggravated identity theft, jailed for a mandatory two-year period to run consecutive to any other sentence imposed in the case.
The case is being investigated by the FBI Seattle Office, Cyber Crime Unit, with assistance from the Singapore Police Force – Technology Crime Investigation Branch, the Attorney General’s Chambers of Singapore, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, and the FBI Legal Attaché Office, the release said.
CNA has contacted SPF for more information.