An 18-year-old suburban New York high school senior is being sued for allegedly being the mastermind and ringleader of a cybercrime scheme that defrauded a cryptocurrency investor out of millions of dollars in digital currencies.
Michael Terpin, a pioneer in the world of cryptocurrency, is accusing Ellis Pinsky, of Irvington, New York, and 20 of his alleged co-conspirators of stealing $23.8 million of cryptocurrency in January 2018.
Pinsky was just 15 and in 10th grade at the time of the alleged crime. Terpin is seeking triple the amount lost in damages, to the tune of $71.4 million.
‘On the surface, Pinsky is an “All American Boy,” Terpin said in a complaint filed in federal court in White Plains, New York, but claims in reality he is ‘an evil computer genius. The tables are now turned.’
In his complaint, Terpin said Pinsky from Westchester county and his ‘gang of digital bandits’ would steal from victims after gaining control of their smartphones through ‘SIM swaps,’ and that Pinsky bragged to friends that he would never get caught.
He is alleged to have written to an acquaintance, ‘I could buy you and all your family. I have 100 million dollars.’ The complaint also alleges that an accomplice saw, in December 2017, ‘records indicating that Ellis had $70 million.’
The case against Pinsky alleges he was able to hack Terpin’s BlackBerry phone and access his ‘digital vault’ which stored the $23.8 million.
Terpin then alleges that within forty-eight hours, Pinsky had managed to launder the virtual cash.
‘In his early teens, Pinsky began hacking computers with the mission of accessing his victims’ private accounts where they store their cryptocurrency holdings or private information,’ the complaint reads.
According to the New York Post friends believed Pinsky to have made his money though more pedestrian means.
‘His best friend thought he was making money through trading Bitcoin and stock,’ an insider said.
Pinsky is alleged to have used a portion of the money to maintain a lavish lifestyle, all while living at home with his parents who are believed to thought he made his Bitcoin money winning on video games.
He is alleged to have had an account with JetSmarter, a private jet sharing company and said to drive an Audi R8 worth around $170,000 while wearing pricey Louis Vuitton streetwear. Yet he was also said to be stingy with his cash.
‘He had a designer wallet packed with $100 bills but he never liked to pay for anything,’ the insider claimed to the Post. ‘He was an extreme miser. He anticipated retiring from crime after the Terpin heist.’
‘Whether [Pinsky’s] parents were recklessly negligent or worse in failing to monitor and control their wayward son remains to be seen,’ the complaint read.
The insider described Pinsky as a teenager who had superb organization skills but someone who was also a bully.
‘He would tell everyone what to do [during heists]. He bragged about [the Terpin robbery] being his job. He’s a very smart guy and a control freak. If you pissed him off, he would start texting you from weird numbers and threaten you. He’d call your parents and say weird things.’
Terpin is accusing Pinsky and his alleged co-conspirators, none identified by name in the complaint, of violating federal laws against racketeering and computer fraud.