US Authorities Arrest Alleged SIM Swappers After Crypto Thefts
The FBI arrested two Massachusetts residents Thursday on charges of attempting to steal cryptocurrency and hijack social media accounts from individuals by “SIM swapping” their phones.
According to a press release, the U.S. Department of Justice has charged Eric Meiggs, 21 and Declan Harrington, 20, on counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, computer fraud, abuse and identity theft for allegedly targeting cryptocurrency company executives and other individuals “who likely had significant amounts of cryptocurrency,” as well as those “who had high value or ‘OG’ (slang for ‘Original Gangster’) social media account names.”
The two allegedly sought to steal more than $550,000 in cryptocurrency from 10 different individuals, and apparently secured access to two social media accounts.
The victims were not identified, though the indictment briefly described several of their connections to the crypto space. One victim owned a bitcoin teller machine, while another ran a “blockchain-based business.”
A number of individuals in the cryptocurrency space have fallen victim to SIM swapping, when attackers pose as the owners of a cell phone number, convincing cellular service providers to give them access to the victims’ accounts. By taking control of a cell phone number, attackers are able to log into social media and sometimes crypto exchange accounts, giving them access to users’ holdings and digital presence.
Michael Terpin, a prominent investor in the crypto space, has filed lawsuits after being SIM swapped, taking on both his mobile provider AT&T and the alleged perpetrator. While his case against AT&T is ongoing, he won $75 million in a case against Manhattan resident Nicholas Truglia, 21.
Similarly, Seattle-based Gregg Bennett is suing Bittrex, claiming the exchange failed to act in time to protect against a SIM swap targeting the angel investor.
The DOJ has previously charged another individual, Ohio resident Dawson Bakies, 20, alleging he targeted more than 50 individuals to SIM swap.
According to Thursday’s press release, the FBI and Internal Revenue Service division of Criminal Investigations are investigating the case.
DOJ image via Paul Brady Photograph / Shutterstock