Soufiane Oulahyane Impersonating OpenSea
A 25-year Moroccan man, known as Soufiane Oulahyane (Soufiane Oulahya), is at the center of a recent indictment announcement made by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), for impersonating the OpenSea marketplace.
The scheme allowed him to gain unauthorized access to cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and steal approximately $450,000 worth of digital assets from a victim in Manhattan.
Currently, Oulahyane is in custody in Morocco, facing foreign charges.
Exploiting Old Techniques in the Crypto Space
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams sheds light on Soufiane Oulahyane’s utilization of a common cybercrime technique called “spoofing” to carry out his illicit activities.
By adapting this age-old tool for the crypto space, Oulahyane managed to deceive unsuspecting victims and steal their cryptocurrency and NFTs.
Williams emphasizes the importance of recognizing that digital assets, including cryptocurrency and NFTs, are susceptible to cyber fraudsters.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office remains committed to prosecuting such criminals both domestically and internationally.
Christie M. Curtis, FBI Acting Assistant Director in Charge, underscores Oulahyane’s alleged operation of a spoof website to gain unauthorized access to victims’ cryptocurrency wallets.
Regardless of the perpetrators’ location, the FBI is determined to hold individuals accountable for conducting malicious cyberattacks against U.S. interests.
Unveiling the Indictment Details
The unsealed indictment, presented in Manhattan federal court, provides a detailed account of Soufiane Oulahyane’s actions:
- In September 2021, Oulahyane engaged in a scheme to “spoof” the login page of the OpenSea marketplace, the largest NFT marketplace. Through paid advertisements on a popular search engine, he manipulated search results to ensure his spoofed version of OpenSea appeared first when users searched for “opensea”. Oulahyane meticulously designed the spoofed website to resemble the legitimate OpenSea login page, effectively deceiving unsuspecting victims into believing they were accessing the real marketplace. However, any login credentials or private information entered on the spoofed site were automatically sent to an email account controlled by Oulahyane.
- On September 26, 2021, a victim based in Manhattan (referred to as “Victim-1”) innocently searched for “opensea” using a popular search engine. Unbeknownst to Victim-1, the search result led them to Oulahyane’s spoofed version of the OpenSea login page. Mistakenly believing it to be the legitimate website, Victim-1 entered the seed phrase to their cryptocurrency wallet, unknowingly granting Oulahyane access to their valuable digital assets.
- Almost immediately, Oulahyane capitalized on Victim-1’s seed phrase to gain unauthorized access to their cryptocurrency wallet. He swiftly transferred the stolen cryptocurrency from Victim-1’s wallet to another wallet beyond their control. Additionally, Oulahyane sold around 39 of Victim-1’s NFTs on the OpenSea marketplace, redirecting the fraudulent proceeds to a wallet outside of Victim-1’s control. The stolen NFTs included pieces from the “Bored Ape Yacht Club”, “Meebit”, “Bored Ape Kennel Club”, and “CryptoDad” series.
The total value of the cryptocurrency and NFTs stolen from Victim-1 amounted to approximately $448,923.
Charges and Potential Sentences
Soufiane Oulahyane, a 25-year-old from Morocco, now faces multiple charges in relation to his fraudulent activities.
These charges include wire fraud, unauthorized access device usage, affecting transactions with an access device, and aggravated identity theft.
If convicted, Oulahyane could face sentences of up to 20 years, 10 years, 15 years, and a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison, respectively.
However, the final sentencing will be determined by the judge.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams acknowledges the exceptional investigative work carried out by the FBI in this case. The Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit is responsible for prosecuting Oulahyane, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas W. Chiuchiolo leading the charge.
It is important to remember that the charges outlined in the indictment are accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
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