A downtown Los Angeles man pleaded guilty Wednesday to defrauding victims by hijacking their social media accounts to steal non-fungible tokens, cryptocurrency and other digital property.
Amir Golshan, 24, entered his plea to federal counts of unauthorized computer access to obtain information, wire fraud and accessing a computer to defraud and obtain value, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Golshan will face up to 30 years imprisonment, plus fines and restitution of $1.5 million, at sentencing on Nov. 27, prosecutors said.
Over the course of the scheme, Golshan employed a variety of means to defraud hundreds of victims.
From April 2019 to last February, he targeted victims using Zelle merchant fraud, in which he fraudulently offered fake and nonexistent services on social media; “SIM swapping” and social media account takeovers, in which he would take control of online accounts to extort the account owners and defraud additional people; and impersonating Apple Inc. support personnel to steal digital property, according to his plea agreement.
“SIM swapping” is the process of fraudulently inducing a carrier to reassign a cell phone number from the legitimate subscriber or user’s SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card to a card controlled by another without the legitimate user’s approval.
Golshan has been in federal custody since his arrest on Feb. 2.