Former Phone Company Employee Sentenced for Role in Sim Swap Scam Conspiracy
Published 1:53 pm Wednesday, October 20, 2021
NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Duane Evans announced that STEPHEN DANIEL DEFIORE age 36, a resident of Brandon, Florida, was sentenced on October 19, 2021 to three (3) months probation, with one year of home confinement by United States District Judge Jay C. Zainey after previously pleading guilty to a one-count Bill of Information charging with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371 and 1343, for his role in a SIM Swap scam that targeted at least nineteen people, including a New Orleans-area physician. DEFIORE was also sentenced to 100 hours of community service, payment of $77,417.50 in restitution and payment of a $100 mandatory special assessment fee.
According to court documents, a SIM Swap scam is a cellular phone account takeover fraud that results in the routing of a victim’s incoming calls and text messages to a different phone. Once a perpetrator is able to swap the SIM card, it is likely he is able to obtain access to a victim’s various personal accounts, including email accounts, bank accounts, and cryptocurrency accounts, as well as any other accounts that use two-factor authentication.
From August 2017 until November 2018, DEFIORE worked as a sales representative for Phone Company A. In that capacity, DEFIORE had access to the accounts of Phone Company A’s customers, including the ability to switch the subscriber identification module (SIM) card linked to a customer’s phone number to a different phone number. Between October 20, 2018, and November 9, 2018, DEFIORE accepted multiple bribes, typically in the amount of approximately $500 per day, to perform SIM swaps of Phone Company A customers identified by a co-conspirator. For each SIM swap, a co-conspirator sent DEFIORE a customer’s phone number, a four-digit PIN, and a SIM card number to which the phone number was to be swapped. In total, DEFIORE received approximately $2,325 in a series of twelve payments. Among the individuals whose accounts DEFIORE accessed was Victim A, a New Orleans resident, who phone number was swapped on November 10, 2018, to a SIM card contained in an Apple iPhone 8 that was in the possession of Richard Li. Li was charged with his role in the offense in June 2020 and was charged in a superseding indictment in August 2021.
U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg, Chief of the Public Corruption Unit, is in charge of the prosecution.