Public Notices and Press Releases

NJ Telecom Executive Hacks Cell Phones for Bitcoin: Admits to Illicit Account Access Scheme

Burlington County Executive Admits to Illegal Cell Phone Account Access in Exchange for Bitcoin

In a striking revelation, Jonathan Katz, a 42-year-old former telecommunications store manager from Marlton, New Jersey, known by the alias “Luna,” confessed to his role in a SIM-swapping conspiracy

The admission came before Chief U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb in Camden federal court on March 12, 2024, where Katz pled guilty to charges of conspiring to gain unauthorized access to a protected computer, according to the office of the Attorney for the United States, Vikas Khanna.

Katz's illegal activities trace back to May 2021, during his tenure as a manager at a telecommunications outlet in Burlington County. Utilizing his managerial credentials, he accessed multiple customer accounts to swap their Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) numbers into mobile devices controlled by an accomplice, who compensated Katz in Bitcoin for the unauthorized swaps. 

This nefarious scheme allowed the accomplice to hijack the victims' phone numbers, seizing control over their electronic accounts, including email, social media, and cryptocurrency holdings.

This conspiracy not only compromised the privacy and security of numerous customers but also underscored significant vulnerabilities within the telecommunications industry's customer account management protocols. 

The payment Katz received was traced back to his cryptocurrency account, illustrating the digital footprint that ultimately facilitated law enforcement's investigation into the case.

Katz now faces a potential maximum sentence of five years in prison, along with a fine of up to $250,000 or double the monetary gain or loss resulting from his actions, whichever amount is greater. His sentencing is scheduled for July 16, 2024.

This case highlights the concerted efforts of law enforcement agencies, including the FBI under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dong Joo Lee of the U.S. Attorney’s Cybercrime Unit. Their collaboration underscores the government's commitment to combating cybercrime and protecting citizens from sophisticated digital fraud schemes.

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