A teenager at the center of a multimillion-dollar cryptocurrency scheme kept his alleged criminal habits under wraps to classmates and even family as they assumed he was just a gamer who hit the jackpot with bitcoin, according to court papers and a New York Post report.
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Ellis Pinsky was 15 when he allegedly began his scheme, through which he has stolen more than $100 million in cryptocurrency as “the ringleader” of what a federal lawsuit calls “a sophisticated cybercrime spree,” court papers show.
“I could buy you and all your family… I have 100 million dollars.”
But the teen’s habits and mysterious wealth apparently never raised alarm bells at his high school or even at home in Westchester County.
“His best friend thought he was making money through trading Bitcoin and stock,” an insider told the Post, under the condition of anonymity, later adding: “I think he told his parents that he made Bitcoin online through video games and got lucky.”
But Pinsky could only stay out of the spotlight for so long.
Cryptocurrency bigwig Michael Terpin sued Pinsky, now 18, and several other unidentified people on May 7 alleging the teenager bilked $23,808,125 from him, and stole tens of millions from others who are not named in the complaint, court papers show.
“On the surface, Pinsky is an ‘All American Boy.’ The son of privilege, he is active in extracurricular activities and lives a suburban life with a doting mother who is a prominent doctor,” the lawsuit states. “Despite their wholesome appearances, Pinsky and his other cohorts are in fact evil computer geniuses with sociopathic traits who heartlessly ruin their innocent victims’ lives and gleefully boast of their multi-million-dollar heists.”
Terpin is seeking treble damages – three times the amount of the actual money lost – or more than $71 million, in addition to attorney fees and related costs.
“These are crypto gangsters,” Terpin told the outlet, adding that his nickname for Pinsky is “Baby Al Capone.”
Pinsky’s attorney, Noam Biale, emphasized to the Post that he was just a kid at the time.
“It is deeply unfortunate that Mr. Terpin has chosen to bring [a] lawsuit, full of smears and baseless allegations, for no imaginable purpose other than spite,” Biale said, according to the report.
Biale did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request seeking comment.
Pinsky and his accomplices, the lawsuit alleges, hacked into victims’ computers and their cryptocurrency accounts and stole the holdings, which they then laundered. In some cases, they would also allegedly steal personal information to get access to the accounts.
“Look at Ellis’ life and there is no reason for him to do what he did,” the insider told the Post. “He’s a standout kid with a dark side.”
The lawsuit describes how Pinsky’s text messages paint a picture of a “wannabe Master of the Universe,” who thought himself invincible and boasted about his wealth.
“I’m well off I’m good I don’t need extra money I’m set for life,” he allegedly wrote to one person.
He allegedly spent millions on pricey watches and nights out at New York City clubs, and was “constantly reaching out for the support of equally callous offenders who think nothing of stealing millions from their victims to live a life of conspicuous consumption,” the lawsuit states.
The foundation in Pinsky’s scheme began to crack after an accomplice, Nicholas Truglia, was busted following a separate cryptocurrency theft from 2018, according to the suit. Truglia, whom Terpin sued separately, ultimately identified Pinsky and a number of people “as his confederates in cryptocurrency thefts.”
Truglia, court papers allege, “described Pinsky’s integral role in the theft” of Terpin’s funds. “Along with other highly incriminating evidence, Truglia’s detailed account of Pinsky’s penetration of Plaintiff’s accounts and how he unlocked the unique secret to the passcodes for his crypto-wallets conclusively demonstrates that Pinsky was one of the hackers,” court papers further show.
No law enforcement charges have been filed against Pinsky.