US Department of Justice reported on the arrest of 21-year-old Eric Meiggs and 20-year-old Declan Harrington. They are charged with 11 counts, including conspiracy, electronic fraud, computer fraud and abuse, as well as aggravated identity theft.
The fact is that Meiggs and Harrington were engaged in the so-called SIM swap attacks. The essence of such attacks is that the criminal addresses the representatives of the victim’s mobile operator and uses social engineering. For example, posing as the real owner of the number, the attacker claims to have lost or broken the SIM card and is trying to transfer the number to the new SIM card. Then, the attackers steal accounts tied to the phone number, effectively stealing other people's identities. Such attacks are often used to steal large amounts of cryptocurrency or compromise. expensive Instagram accounts.
The investigation reports that mainly the leaders of cryptocurrency companies, as well as users who had a significant amount of cryptocurrency in Coinbase or Block.io wallets, became victims of Meiggs and Harrington. In addition, fraudsters were interested in the owners of especially “valuable” accounts on Instagram and Tumblr.
So, the defendants stole a $ 200,000 cryptocurrency from an unnamed Arizona resident at a time. Another 100,000 dollars were stolen from a victim from California, who was friends with another goal of the attackers – the head of a blockchain business. Also, a cryptocurrency worth $ 165,000 was stolen from the head of the cryptocurrency project from Illinois, and another $ 35,000 was stolen from the wallet on Block.io, which was owned by a Nevada resident who owns a Bitcoin ATM network.
Even worse, the indictment says that in one case, Meiggs threatened to kill the victim’s wife if he did not gain control of his Instagram account. Usually in such cases, fraudsters took the victim’s phone number “hostage”, and then demanded that they provide them with accounts from a social network account as a ransom. But apparently, something went wrong at that time.
In total, between November 2017 and May 2018, the suspects managed or attempted to steal more than $ 550,000 from at least 10 identified victims from the United States. At the same time, Meiggs managed to establish control over the accounts on social networks belonging to two victims.
Meiggs and Harrington are now facing up to 20 years in prison for every charge of electronic fraud, and each episode of identity theft under aggravating circumstances provides an additional 2 years in prison.