A Los Angeles resident, Amir Hossein Golshan, aged 25, has received a federal prison sentence of 96 months for orchestrating a range of scams, including the use of “SIM swapping” to hijack Instagram accounts. The presiding judge described Golshan’s crimes as acts of “wanton cruelty.” Since his arrest in June 2023, Golshan has been held in custody and is also required to pay restitution exceeding $1.2 million.
Golshan’s illicit activities unfolded between April 2019 and February 2023, resulting in approximately $740,000 in losses. His schemes encompassed various online frauds and unauthorized access to digital accounts. Prosecutors emphasized Golshan’s lack of remorse and highlighted his escalating sophistication in criminal methods.
The technique of “SIM swapping” involves tricking a carrier into transferring a victim’s phone number to a controlled SIM card, enabling fraudsters to bypass two-step authentication (2FA) and gain access to accounts. Golshan exploited this method to target social media accounts, convincing victims and their contacts to send him money.
One noteworthy instance involved Golshan impersonating a Los Angeles-based model and influencer. He locked the victim out of her Instagram account, demanding $2,000 for its return and threatening deletion otherwise. Golshan’s tactics extended to fraudulent advertising of non-existent Instagram services, such as selling a verified badge for $300.
Golshan’s fraudulent activities, which included SIM swapping and Zelle fraud, yielded approximately $82,000 from around 500 victims. His schemes expanded to impersonating Apple Support personnel, providing access to victims’ Apple iCloud accounts. This allowed him to steal valuable digital assets, including NFTs and cryptocurrency.
In a notable case, Golshan deceived a victim into providing a two-step authentication code, gaining control of the victim’s iCloud account. This resulted in the theft of an NFT valued at around $319,000 and approximately $70,000 in cryptocurrency. The stolen NFT was later sold for $130,000 in cryptocurrency.
The FBI spearheaded the investigation that led to Golshan’s arrest and subsequent conviction. This case serves as a prime example of the warned rise in NFT scams, as highlighted by the intelligence agency.