Two Massachusetts residents named Eric Meiggs and Declan Harrington were arrested on Nov 14 by United states department of Justice over charges of stealing social media account and cryptocurrency. According to announcement , they were charged with one count of computer related fraud and abuse, one count of conspiracy, one count of identity theft and 8 count of wire fraud.
Planned to steal more than $550,000 in Crypto
The Massachusetts mans had targeted executives working for cryptocurrency related organization thinking they will be owning large amount of cryptocurrency and have very high-value social media accounts. Meiggs and Harrington used a illegal method of hacking called SIM swapping to access social media accounts of victims and in some cases to steal cryptocurrency using the sensitive information collected via those hacked social media accounts.
SIM swapping works in three steps:
- Attacker buys a blank SIM cards from ebay and plugged into a burner phone.
- They scam telecom provider and make them transfer victim's phone number to their blank SIM.
- Attacker can now reset passwords to social media accounts or crypto wallets that are linked to those phone numbers.
Samy Tarazi, a sergeant at the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office commented on the phenomena in October:
“We’re talking about kids aged mainly between 19 and 22 being able to steal millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies [...] we’re now dealing with someone who buys a 99 cent SIM card off eBay, plugs it into a cheap burner phone, makes a call and steals millions of dollars. That’s pretty remarkable.”
According to US department of justice, these two men have targeted more than ten victims across US and have successfully stole or tried to steal atleast half of million dollar worth of cryptocurrency from them.