U.S. authorities arrested two men on November 14 for an alleged scheme to take over victims’ social media accounts and steal their cryptocurrency using “SIM swapping,” computer hacking and other techniques, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Eric Meiggs, 21, of Brockton, Massachusetts and Declan Harrington, 20, of Rockport, Massachusetts were charged with one count of conspiracy, eight counts of wire fraud, one count of computer fraud and abuse and one count of aggravated identity theft.
The two men allegedly targeted executives of cryptocurrency companies, others who likely had significant amounts of cryptocurrency and those who had high value social media account names, and conspired to hack into and take control over online accounts to get things of value, such as cryptocurrency.
According to the indictment, at least 10 identified victims were targeted in the U.S. Members of the conspiracy allegedly stole or attempted to steal more than $550,000 in cryptocurrency from these victims alone.
It was alleged in the indictment that cybercriminals use “SIM swapping” to convince a victim’s cell phone carrier to reassign the victim’s cell phone number from the SIM card inside the victim’s cell phone to the SIM card inside a cell phone that the cybercriminals controlled.
Cybercriminals then pose as the victim with an online account provider, and ask it to send account password-reset links or an authentication code to the SIM-swapped device that they now controlled. They can then reset the victim’s account log-in credentials and use these to gain unauthorized access or “hack into” the account.