It seems that fraudsters these days have moved past crypto jacking to using the latest technique of SIM hijacking in order to cash in with bitcoin from the trending crypto space.
Earlier this month in California a 20-year old college student from Boston, Massachusetts was arrested for charges of being part of a gang that hacked cellphone numbers. Nearly $5 millions were stolen in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from the alleged hack.
A public service announcement warning of the increasing cases of fraud in the cryptocurrency field was released by FBI. It was labelled as ‘tech support fraud’. It mainly involved criminals posing as customer or tech support personnel with a view of defrauding their targets
Joel Ortiz and his accomplices managed to hijack nearly 40 cell phones. They made use of a technique referred to as SIM swapping or hijacking. Mobile operators are tricked into transferring the target’s phone number to a SIM card that’s under hacker’s control. Resetting of the password can then be done by the criminals before accessing online accounts of their victim, reports Motherboard.
Ortiz and his accomplices especially target people involved in blockchain and cryptocurrency fields. Binance, Bittrex and Coinbase were the cryptocurrency exchanges that Ortiz allegedly used. As per the investigation report, the Bostonian had moved cryptocurrencies worth over US$1 million.
The chase for the criminal gang started when one unnamed victim reported to the police that his cell phone number had been stolen. Ortiz had targeted the victim several times and managed to hijack his cellphone number twice. The investigators were able to obtain the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers of the phones the SIM hijacker had been using with the help of telecommunications giant AT&T.