The U.S. is pursuing a British man over allegations he helped hijack an American citizen’s identity to steal $8.5 million in crypto assets while he was a teenager.
Corey De Rose, who is facing extradition to the U.S., is accused of helping hack into the man’s crypto wallet and transferring the digital currency to him and his alleged co-conspirators in 2017, lawyers for the U.S. said at the start of a London court hearing. He received 108.18 Bitcoins, valued at around $300,000 at the time.
De Rose was part of a wider team of hackers called “The Community” which allegedly hijacked U.S. identities to steal over $50 million in cryptocurrencies between 2017 and 2018, lawyers for the U.S. alleged. He’s accused of speaking to other members of the group using the Skype moniker “live:cr00k000.”
The group conspired to hack numerous individuals through SIM hijacking, a technique where a person’s identity is stolen by gaining control of their mobile phone number with the objective of stealing crypto, prosecutors allege.
Lawyers for the 22-year-old said he should stand trial in the U.K. rather than being extradited to the U.S. because a substantial part of his alleged offending took place in his home country. They are fighting against his extradition on mental health grounds and say he is a suicide risk.
Part of their case is that the cryptocurrency had no value and no harm was caused because the man he’s alleged to have helped defraud was found to have illegally sold it into the market. It’s therefore “questionable” that the man is in fact a victim, his lawyers say.
“We’re dealing with an 18 year-old boy” who’s accused of playing some part in this “over a period of two days” against someone “found to be so crooked,” that the cryptocurrency has no value, Edward Fitzgerald, De Rose’s lawyer, said in court on Monday.
Peter Caldwell, a lawyer for the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service, told the court it was irrelevant that the alleged victim had himself fallen foul of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
It doesn’t “allow Mr. Rose and his friends to act as Robin Hood” and take his assets for their gain, he said. “This is a very serious fraud.”
The CPS and another lawyer for De Rose who’s instructing Fitzgerald declined to comment on the case
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