On Wednesday, two men from Massachusetts were each given more than two years in prison for stealing cryptocurrency in SIM-swapping attacks and taking over the social media accounts of their victims.
Eric Meiggs and Declan Harrington’s attacks were aimed at people who probably had a lot of crypto assets in their Coinbase or Block.io wallets (like cryptocurrency executives) or who had high-value “OG” (Original Gangster) Instagram and Tumblr accounts.
Threats of death, hacking, and the theft of cryptocurrency
According to court documents, they stole $200,000 worth of cryptocurrency at once from an Arizona resident who “communicated publicly online with cryptocurrency experts.” They also stole $100,000 from a California resident who was close to someone who “ran a blockchain-based business.”
A cryptocurrency project leader in Illinois had another $165,000 worth of cryptocurrency stolen. At the same time, about $35,000 worth of cryptocurrency assets were stolen from the Block.io wallet of a victim in Nevada who “owned a Bitcoin ATM network.”
The indictment says that Meiggs also called a victim and threatened to kill their wife while trying to take over the target’s Instagram account.
The person gave in and changed the profile name, which gave the scammer control of the handle.
According to the indictment, these are some of the things the two defendants are said to have done during their attacks:
Find potential victims who are likely to have a lot of cryptocurrencies and use online tools to find out more about them.
“SIM swapping” is a way to get control of the cell phone numbers of other people.
Using the victims’ stolen phone numbers to get into their online accounts, like their email, social media, and cryptocurrency accounts, without their permission.
Taking over and stealing their victims’ account handles and cryptocurrency by getting into their accounts.
selling or transferring in some other way the log-in information, account handles, and cryptocurrency of victims.
Using friends and family of the people whose online accounts were broken into to ask for money and cryptocurrency
They use multiple online accounts to hide who they are and keep law enforcement from finding them.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tells people how to protect themselves from SIM-swapping attacks. The FBI has also warned that SIM swapping is being used more and more to steal cryptocurrency.
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