A Massachusetts college student has been arrested in California on suspicion of using his tech skills to hack victims’ personal cellphones and steal at least $2 million in digital currency like Bitcoin from their accounts.
Prosecutors say Joel Ortiz was taken into custody July 12 at Los Angeles International Airport while en route to Boston. Court documents show the 20-year-old faces more than two dozen charges including grand theft, identity theft and computer hacking.
He’s held on $1 million bail.
The Santa Clara County, California, public defender’s office, which is representing Ortiz, declined comment Wednesday.
Prosecutors say his elaborate scheme involved taking over victims’ phones, allowing him to reset passwords and access online accounts containing digital money.
Ortiz, a high school valedictorian, studies information technology at the University of Massachusetts Boston.