A powerful cryptocurrency investor is suing a New York high-school senior who he alleges led a “gang of digital bandits” to steal nearly $24 million in multiple cryptocurrencies from him in 2015.
Michael Terpin, the founder and chief executive officer of Transform Group, filed the complaint against Ellis Pinsky in federal court in White Plains, New York, on Thursday now that Pinsky has turned 18 years old.
In the complaint, Terpin claims that Pinsky seems like “an ‘all-American boy,’” but in reality the suburban Westchester County teen is an “evil computer genius” who led a “gang of digital bandits” in a “sophisticated cybercrime spree” in 2018, when Pinsky was just 15.
Terpin is suing Pinsky and 20 co-conspirators who have been named in the case as “20 John Does” for $71.4 million in damages, according to figures in the legal documents. “Pinsky and his other cohorts are in fact evil computer geniuses with sociopathic traits who heartlessly ruin their innocent victims’ lives and gleefully boast of their multimillion-dollar heists,” Terpin wrote in the complaint filed Thursday.
Bloomberg News unsuccessfully tried to reach Pinsky, who does not have a lawyer listed on the complaint.
In the complaint, Terpin accuses Pinksy of stealing data from him and others by tapping into their smartphones through “SIM swaps” and then accessing online accounts by tricking mobile phone carriers into transferring the victim’s phone number and data. Terpin alleges the crime violates federal racketeering and computer -raud laws.
Terpin is also suing AT&T Mobility in Los Angeles for $240 million, which was Pinsky’s phone carrier at the time the alleged hacking occurred. AT&T has filed a bid to dismiss the case based on user-agreement indemnities, Bloomberg News reports.
Terpin won a related civil judgment of $75.8 million in May 2019 against an associate of Pinsky named Nicholas Truglia, who is also facing criminal hacking charges in both California and New York.