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Alleged Crypto-Stealing SIM Swap Duo Charged

Two men have been arrested and charged in connection with a major SIM swap campaign designed to steal cryptocurrency and hijack high-value social media accounts.

Eric Meiggs, 21, of Brockton, Massachusetts, and Declan Harrington, 20, of Rockport, Massachusetts, face an 11-count indictment, charging them with one count of conspiracy, eight counts of wire fraud, one count of computer fraud and abuse, and one count of aggravated identity theft.

After using classic SIM swap techniques to gain control of victims’ phone numbers, they targeted cryptocurrency company executives and others, intercepting two-factor authentication reset codes to hijack their Coinbase and Block.io wallets and drain them of digital funds.

They allegedly stole or attempted to steal over $550,000 in cryptocurrency from around 10 victims across the US, according to the indictment.

In addition, Meiggs is accused of hijacking two high-value social media accounts, in one case threatening to kill the wife of a victim if they didn’t give up their Instagram handle. In another case he allegedly convinced a victim to give him his handle in return for his phone number.

These so-called “OG” or “Original Gangster” accounts are typically registered soon after social media platforms are launched, giving them an extra cachet which means they can be highly sought-after online.

SIM swapping is a increasingly common threat to mobile users, and there’s little victims can do about it. The problem stems from the mobile carriers themselves: it is their staff who are tricked into believing the hacker is a legitimate customer. Sometimes insiders at these firms are part of the conspiracy.

In May this year, nine men including three former employees of mobile phone companies were charged for their roles in a SIM swap campaign which is said to have netted them around $2.4m in cryptocurrency.

Meanwhile, AT&T is set for a courtroom showdown with a cryptocurrency exec whose account was drained of $24m in funds after criminals persuaded an AT&T agent in a Connecticut store to transfer his mobile phone number to a new SIM.

Michael Terpin is suing the telco giant for $224m.

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