AT&T sued for negligence over cryptocurrency hack

A U.S. cryptocurrency investor on Wednesday filed a $224 million lawsuit against AT&T, alleging the telecom company’s negligence contributed to a hack that robbed him of about $24 million in digital tokens.

The investor, Michael Terpin, claims the tokens were stolen through “digital identify theft” that compromised his cell phone account with AT&T, his service provider. The lawsuit alleges that hackers convinced AT&T to transfer Terpin’s cell phone account to a compromised SIM card under their control on two separate occasions.

"What AT&T did was like a hotel giving a thief with a fake ID a room key and a key to the room safe to steal jewelry in the safe from the rightful owner," the complaint alleged.

The lawsuit accuses AT&T of gross negligence and seeks $200 million in punitive damages, as well as a return of the value of Terpin’s stolen cryptocurrency. Terpin is best known as a co-founder of BitAngels, the first angel group for bitcoin investors.

“We dispute these allegations and look forward to presenting our case in court,” AT&T said in a statement.

The global cryptocurrency market is worth about $200 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. The value of bitcoin and other leading cryptocurrencies has come under pressure in recent months, owing in part to concerns about cybersecurity after a series of hacks on major exchanges.