Business

US investor awarded $103 million for cryptocurrency fraud

US entrepreneur and cryptocurrency investor Michael Terpin won US$75.8 million (S$103.3 million) in a civil judgement against a 21-year-old man who Mr Terpin said was part of a scheme that defrauded him of digital currencies, court documents showed on Friday.

California Superior Court last week ordered Manhattan resident Nicholas Truglia to pay Mr Terpin the amount in compensatory and punitive damages, one of the largest court judgements awarded to an individual in the cryptocurrency space, highlighting crime in the sector.

Losses from cryptocurrency theft and fraud surged in the first quarter of the year to US$1.2 billion, cybersecurity firm CipherTrace said.

Mr Terpin told Reuters late on Thursday he filed a civil complaint in January after three million tokens were stolen from his mobile phone account in early 2018.

At the time of the theft, the three million tokens were worth US$23.8 million, according to a separate complaint filed by Mr Terpin with US District Court in Los Angeles in August. In that complaint, Mr Terpin sued AT&T as his service provider.

Mr Terpin's tokens were stolen when Truglia and other participants fraudulently transferred Mr Terpin's phone number to their control. This allowed them to access online accounts.

Truglia was arrested in November for six other crimes and law enforcement is continuing to investigate the case.

Mr Terpin said he is preparing action against other gang members.

According to an affidavit by Truglia's former friend Chris David, Truglia before his arrest, lived a life of luxury with private jets, sports cars and Rolex watches. - REUTERS

BUSINESS & FINANCE