DOJ, FBI, IRS Joint Task Force Arrest Twenty Year Olds For SIM Swapping, Stealing $550,000 In Crypto

  • SIM swapping leaves any content on users’ smartphones at risk for theft.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice has charged the alleged offenders with multiple counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, and other crimes.

SIM swapping is a method of infiltrating someone’s phone, presently being used in the crypto industry by hackers that want to steal cryptocurrency and take over social media accounts. The method has been used by multiple hackers, but a press release reveals that the FBI has already arrested two residents in Massachusetts for their own attempt to use this attack.

The U.S. Department of Justice charged Eric Meiggs and Declan Harrington with counts of:

  • Conspiracy
  • Wire fraud
  • Computer fraud
  • Abuse
  • Identity theft

The victims who were allegedly target were executives of crypto companies, as well as other individuals, “who likely had significant amounts of cryptocurrency.” The targeted individuals also included those “who had high value or ‘OG’ (slang for ‘Original Gangster’) social media account names.” Meiggs and Harrington allegedly were trying to steal over $550,000 in cryptocurrency, attacking 10 separate individuals. Reports indicate that they seemed to have secure access to two social media accounts in the process.

While this data was available in the press release, the victims were not specified beyond comments that they were involved in the cryptocurrency space in some way. One of the victims ran a “blockchain-based business,” while another owned a Bitcoin teller machine.

This is hardly the first case of individuals getting scammed with SIM swapping in the crypto industry. With the control of a cell phone number, the attackers have access to multiple accounts, including social media and crypto exchange accounts, which gives them access to their holdings. In the last few weeks, Seth Shapiro of VideoCoin, Neeraj Agrawal of Coin Center, and Ryan Selkis of Messari have all reported these kinds of issues.

Michael Terpin, following an attack on his own phone with SIM swapping, filed lawsuits against his mobile provider – AT&T – and the alleged attacker. The prominent crypto investor’s case is still ongoing against the mobile provider, but he won his $75 million case against the attacker, Nicholas Truglia.

Bittrex is facing a lawsuit by Gregg Bennett of Seattle, who stated that the exchange did not act quickly enough to protected him a SIM swap.

Based on the press release on Thursday, the current case with Harrington and Meiggs is presently being investigated by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service.

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