Two young men from Massachusetts have been charged in an 11-count indictment for crimes relating to the theft of over $550,000 USD in cryptocurrencies from, “at least 10 identified victims.”
Eric Meiggs, 21, and Declan Harrington, 20, allegedly executed the thefts via SIM-swap attacks, a type of hack described in the relevant press release from the US Department of Justice:
“(W)ith ‘SIM swapping’ cybercriminals convince a victim’s cell phone carrier to reassign the victim’s cell phone number from the SIM card (or Subscriber Identity Module card) inside the victim’s cell phone to the SIM card inside a cell phone controlled by the cybercriminals. Cybercriminals then pose as the victim with an online account provider and request that the provider send account password-reset links or an authentication code to the SIM-swapped device now controlled by the cybercriminals. The cybercriminals can then reset the victim’s account log-in credentials and can then use the log-in credentials to access the victim’s account without authorization, or ‘hack into’ the account.”
The men’s preferred victims, according to the release, included executives at cryptocurrency exchanges, “who likely had significant amounts of cryptocurrency and those who had high value or ‘OG’ (slang for ‘Original Gangster’) social media account names.”
The men employed ‘SIM-swapping’ and other techniques, “to access, take control of, and in some cases steal cryptocurrency from, the accounts. They also successfully commandeered the social media accounts of two high-profile individuals.
In total, the men are charged with one count of conspiracy, eight counts of wire fraud, one count of computer fraud and abuse and one count of aggravated identity theft.
SIM-swap hacks for the purpose of stealing cryptocurrencies have become common in the US in recent years.
A crypto investor named Michael Terpin is currently suing AT&T Mobility for $224 million USD after hackers who SIM-swapped him successfully made off with $24 million USD worth of Terpin’s crypto tokens.
Terpin had previously won a $79 million USD civil suit he brought against Nicholas Truglia, a 21-year-old hacker from New York charged with SIM-swapping Terpin and others.
In 2018, officers from the Silicon Valley-based Regional Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT) arrested 5 young hackers who collectively stole $50 million USD in cryptocurrencies via SIM-swap hacks. Truglia was among them.