Two hackers from Massachusetts have been arrested and charged in U.S. District Court in Boston for their suspected involvement in a two-year nationwide cryptocurrency SIM swap scam wherein the two allegedly hijacked the phones and social media accounts of victims to steal cryptocurrency, representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced Thursday.
According to the Massachusetts state District Court indictment, 21-year-old Eric Meiggs and 20-year-old Declan Harrington attempted to steal over $550,000 in cryptocurrency from cryptocurrency executives and others thought to be in possession of significant amounts of cryptocurrency including those with “high value” social media account names.
Meiggs and Harrington allegedly attempted to dupe at least ten individuals out of cryptocurrency since November 2017.
The pair would allegedly attempt to convince their victims’ mobile phone carriers to reassign their number to a new SIM card under the attackers’ control in an effort to obtain unauthorized access to their victims’ accounts.
By successfully seizing control of a cell phone number, the attackers are able to log into social media and occasionally cryptocurrency exchange accounts, providing them access to victims’ holdings and digital presence. Hence, the two cybercriminals could subsequently proceed to reset passwords to obtain access to victims’ online cryptocurrency wallets and private keys.
Meiggs and Harrington face charges of computer fraud and abuse, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy.
SIM swapping is a common type of account takeover fraud that hackers and cybercriminals deploy within the cryptocurrency community. In early November, cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex was reportedly sued by a SIM-swap hack victim for failing to protect his account from financially motivated hackers that utilized SIM swap, which ultimately resulted in a theft of over $1 million in Bitcoin.