Cryptocurrency hackers have been having a good time making easy money and vanishing without a trace. However, in the land of SIM swapping, shady crypto thieves are not very lucky. In the United States, six of them have been charged.
A press release from the Department of Justice, US Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Michigan, indicates that six individuals connected to a hacking group “were charged in a fifteen-count indictment… with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.”
Five of those mentioned in the indictment hailed from the US although in different states – Florida, Iowa, New York, Missouri, Connecticut – while one is from Dublin Ireland. 3 other individuals were also charged.
As per the press release:
“The defendants are members of the ‘The Community’ and alleged to have participated in thefts of victims’ identities in order to steal cryptocurrency via a method known as ‘SIM Hijacking’. [This method] is an identity theft technique that exploits a common cyber-security weakness – mobile phone numbers. This tactic enabled ‘The Community’ to gain control of victims’ mobile phone number.”
After a successful SIM swap event, the hijacker gets full control of your line’s SMS enabling the attacker to change passwords to your crypto wealth stores. Often, the hijacker contacts your mobile service provider and requests a SIM swap to a Simcard they have control of.
Angie Salazar, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the case, said:
“The allegations against these defendants are a result of complex cryptocurrency and identity theft investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations, which spanned two continents. Increasingly, criminal groups are turning exclusively to web-based schemes to further their illicit activities, which is why HIS has developed capabilities to meet these threats head-on.”
If found guilty of wire fraud, each of the six defendants faces a jail term of 20 years. Surprisingly, the oldest among the indicted individuals is 26 years, followed by 25 years, and the rest are either 19 or 21 years.