Two individuals were charged yesterday for their suspected involvement in a two-year cryptocurrency SIM swapping scam. The suspects are believed to have taken control of telephone numbers and attempted to gain access to various online accounts to steal digital currency from victims.
The pair were arrested last Thursday. They face charges of wire fraud, computer fraud and abuse, aggravated identity theft,and conspiracy.
According to a Massachusetts state District Court indictment, the two individuals are Eric Meiggs and Declan Harrington. Both men are Massachusetts residents.
The indictment alleges that the two men attempted to steal more than $550,000 from cryptocurrency executives and others believed to be in possession of large holdings of digital assets. The pair reportedly tried to dupe at least 10 individuals out of crypto since November 2017.
Those behind the scam would attempt to convince their victims’ mobile phone carriers to transfer their number to a new SIM card under the scammers’ control. If successful, they could then gain access to email, social media, and cryptocurrency exchange accounts.
Another tactic mentioned in the indictment involved the two posing as their victims. Once they had successfully taken control of a telephone numbers they would message contacts complaining about being hacked. They’d then appeal to the family and friends of the victim for financial aid.
In one example, the scammers called one of their victims’ wives and sent a text message to their daughter. The message read:
“TELL YOUR DAD TO GIVE US THE BITCOIN.”
The US Department of Justice is charging the pair with 11 counts in total. Eight of wire fraud, one of computer fraud, one of aggravated identity theft, and one count of conspiracy.
The SIM swap scam has become a popular means of defrauding cryptocurrency investors. NewsBTC recently reported on the case of a California man who sold his home for $1.8 million to buy cryptocurrency.
SIM swap scammers quickly targeted the individual. After gaining control of the victim’s phone number, they were able to get into his cryptocurrency trading accounts and empty them.
Although this example does not appear to be connected with the recent indictment, both, and others like them, serve as a reminder of the potential security risks associated with cryptocurrency storage. Crypto investors can significantly limit the damage such attacks cause by using cold storage for large holdings and also spreading cryptocurrencies across multiple storage methods.
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