SIM swapping victim alleges T-Mobile failed to stop $20,000 cryptocurrency scam

The stolen funds would be worth $65,000 today, the suit claims.
Exterior view of T Mobile signage is seen on May 22, 2021 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by RBL/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

A Pennsylvania woman who lost the equivalent of $20,000 in cryptocurrency as part of a mobile fraud scheme says T-Mobile failed to protect her account in the face of a wave of similar incidents.

Sima Kesler, in a complaint filed Wednesday in Pennsylvania Eastern District Court, alleges she was the victim of a May 2020 SIM swapping scheme, in which scammers convince a phone carrier to give them control of an individual user’s account.

With control of a victim’s phone information, thieves can receive text messages and access unrelated accounts tied to the victim’s mobile number. In this case, Kesler says she stored roughly $20,000 in a Coinbase account connected to her T-Mobile subscription. Unknown fraudsters had tricked T-Mobile customer service personnel into handing over access to Kesler’s account, which they then used to deplete her Coinbase of virtually all cryptocurrency, according to the complaint.

Kesler’s complaint alleges that she noticed her phone had stopped working around 8:00 p.m. on the night of May 2, 2020, only to receive an email from Coinbase indicating someone had changed her password by 9:12 p.m.


The $20,000 in cryptocurrency was worth more than $65,000 when the suit was filed on June 2.

T-Mobile did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

The case argues that the Germany-based telecommunications company demonstrated “a reckless disregard for the rights of its customers” by failing to protect user data amid news headlines and ongoing research into the SIM swapping phenomenon.

Nine months before scammers stole $20,000 from Kesler’s Coinbase account, the suit argues, Jack Dorsey was the victim of another high profile SIM swap, in which outsiders seized control of the Twitter CEO’s information. Security journalist Brian Krebs also covered the issue in 2018, specifically reporting that a T-Mobile retail store employee was under investigation for making an unauthorized SIM swap.

The case seeks compensation for the lost cryptocurrency as well as unspecified statutory damages.

Jeff Stone

Written by Jeff Stone

Jeff Stone is the editor-in-chief of CyberScoop, with a special interest in cybercrime, disinformation and the U.S. justice system. He previously worked as an editor at the Wall Street Journal, and covered technology policy for sites including the Christian Science Monitor and the International Business Times.

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