A young Scot risks extradition to America and up to 20 years in prison if convicted of £ 7m fraud.
Robert Barr, 24, is accused of cheating digital money from a top US Bitcoin broker while living with his mother in Ayrshire after an FBI hunt.
U.S. prosecutors allege that the computer prodigy stole the huge amount from Boston-based cryptocurrency retailer Reggie Middleton and transferred it to another account.
They claim he was working with two other people in a widespread scam known as’ sim swapping ‘, in which scammers trick mobile phone companies into giving them customers’ SIM card information so they can then hack cryptocurrency accounts or wallets.
Barr is wanted in Georgia for fraud, on eight charges, including fraud, money laundering and identity theft.
The Sunday Mail can reveal that Barr – who was arrested by Scottish police, remanded in custody and then released on bail – lost a legal bid at Edinburgh Sheriff’s Court last week to have the case thrown out.
He looks set to be extradited later this year.
While Barr’s mother and stepfather say they know nothing about his alleged crimes, a former friend has revealed how the baby-faced Xbox fan was part of a group of teenagers who called themselves the “Hackers”.
He said: “We used to play hackers when we were younger, and gained access to people’s accounts on social media, but Robert always went overboard.
“We were young, around 15-16, and for me it was fun. I liked things with smart usernames, so I hacked into Skype, Snapchats, stuff like that. You could take accounts, often inactive and unused, so no loss to anyone, and sell them to other people who wanted that username.
“I do not think Robert fully understood the seriousness of his actions and saw it as something happening on his computer.”
The alleged cryptocurrencies involving Barr allegedly took place in May and July 2017, and the details of the U.S. allegations, obtained by the Sunday Mail, span 13 pages.
Barr and another man are accused of devising a plan to use the victim’s cell phone number to access his email and other accounts. From there, they are accused of having changed his passwords and located his cryptocurrency addresses.
Barr and the gang would then transfer the currency to their own cryptocurrency accounts. The football fan and co-defendant, American Anthony Frances Faulks, allegedly used the same scam to trick another unnamed victim into hacking his phone in May 2017.
It is alleged that they then used the stolen number to access email accounts and change passwords. From there, they have reportedly transferred cryptocurrency worth over £ 485,000 to their own accounts.
Barr and others then allegedly shared the proceeds between them to “hide their identity” and the “illegal transfer of funds”.
Barr was arrested in February last year following a request to police Scotland in America.
He appeared in Edinburgh Sheriff’s Court and was remanded in custody ahead of the formal start of the extradition case in April last year.
The following month, he appeared via video link from prison, and the case continued until October, when he was released on bail at his mother Sallyann Gilchrist’s home in Kilbirnie.
Last month, his defense team failed in an attempt in the same court to overturn the arrest warrant.
No further date has been set for the extradition case, but it is understood that it may not be until November. The case was previously investigated by a grand jury in Georgia in 2020 when the charges against him were established.
A Barr co-defendant named Corey De Rose, a 22-year-old Londoner with Asperger’s syndrome, won his extradition battle in January. He is also accused of hacking into Middleton’s cryptocurrency account in 2017. A court in London refused to send him to the United States because of his health problems.
The Sunday Mail tried to talk to Barr at the family home in Kilbirnie, where mother Salyann declined to comment.
His father-in-law Sean Gilchrist claimed they were unaware of any extradition procedure against Robert.
He said: “He only stayed here for two months. He will not stay here anymore. I do not know where he is.
We also tried other addresses for Barr in Renfrewshire but he could not be reached for comment.
The Edinburgh Crown Office, which is handling the extradition on behalf of the US government, said: “These cases are ongoing.”
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