San Francisco (KTVU) - San Francisco entrepreneur Rob Ross says he was scrolling through his cell phone when he got a notification asking him to approve a withdrawal. Other things were amiss, too.
"I saw that I was logged out of my gmail, meaning in real time I had just been logged in and I was logged out," Ross said.
He then learned that his phone no longer had service with AT&T.
"At that point, I realized, 'Oh my God, I'm under attack.'"
He was attacked by a virtual thief who changed his passwords, took over his digital bank accounts and stole a hefty sum from him.
"He withdrew a million dollars. The entire attack, from start to finish, was about 20 minutes.
Most of it was his life savings. Some of the money had been set aside for his 16-year-old daughter's college education.
"For days and days, I woke up, was in disbelief. I mean, I couldn't sleep for days and weeks," he said.
Ross says he's the victim of "SIM swapping." He says the hacker pretended to be him and managed to convince an AT&T employee to change his sim number to that of the suspect's - without touching the phone itself.
"Either through trickery or through bribery," Ross said.
But Santa Clara County Sheriff's investigators with REACT, a computer crime task force, identified 21-year-old Nicholas Truglia as the suspect. They arrested him at his high-rise New York City apartment. He's been charged with 21 felonies, including identity theft.
Truglia's also been charged with targeting Saswata Basu, CEO of 0chain; Angel anderson, founder of Nailsnaps; Myles Danielsen, a hedge-fund executive and Gabrielle Katsnelson, co-founder of SMBX.
"It's amazing that you can steal so much money without ever interacting with someone," said sheriff's Sgt. Samy Tarazi. "It doesn't take a special talent, it's just the patience and the willingness to steal people's life savings."
Ross has collected court documents of other SIM-swapping suspects and now runs stopsimcrime.org, a resource for other victims.
The defendant is in jail, awaiting trial. Ross says he's considering a civil lawsuit against AT&T.