Ten individuals having a place with a criminal organization have been arrested regarding a series of SIM-swapping assaults that brought about the robbery of more than $100 million by taking control over the accounts of mobile phones of prominent personalities in the U.S.
Europol in an article said that “the attacks orchestrated by this criminal gang targeted thousands of victims throughout 2020, including famous internet influencers, sports stars, musicians and their families. The criminals are believed to have stolen from them over $100 million in cryptocurrencies after illegally gaining access to their phones.”
The eight suspects, matured 18 to 26, are supposed to be a part of a bigger scam or cybercrime group, of which two individuals were already captured in Malta and Belgium. The most recent captures were made in England and Scotland.
The scope comes nearly 12 months after Europol drove an operation to destroy two SIM swap cybercrime gangs that are responsible for stealing €3.5 million (i.e., $3.9 million) by organizing a flood of over 100 assaults focusing on casualties in Austria, exhausting their financial balances through their phone numbers.
Generally, such attacks are accomplished with the assistance of a corrupt insider or utilizing social engineering baits, SIM trading alludes to the method being adopted by cybercriminals to convince phone carriers into porting their casualties’ cell administrations to a SIM card under their influence.
This SIM swap at that point allows attackers to access and interact with approaching phone calls, instant messages, and one-time confirmation codes (or OTPs) that different sites send by means of SMS messages as a feature of the two-factor validation (2FA), a security step/process.
Once in charge of the selected target’s cell phone, the specialists noticed that the cybercriminals accessed individual’s personal data, involving contacts stored and synced on online accounts, and took cash, with cryptocurrency losses surpassing $100 million in the year 2020.
The U.S. secret service said, “This enabled them to steal money, bitcoin and personal information, including contacts synced with online accounts. They also hijacked social media accounts to post content and send messages masquerading as the victim. The multi-jurisdictional arrests announced today illustrate the importance of building strong partnerships. The Secret Service would like to thank our domestic and international law enforcement partners for their steadfast commitment and cooperation in this case. The Secret Service and our law enforcement partners remain ready to combat transnational crimes and to hold offenders accountable.”
The individuals that were arrested deal with indictments for offenses under the Computer Misuse Act, just as extortion and money laundering. They are additionally expected to be removed to the U.S. for indictment.
Europol suggested that “When possible, do not associate your phone number with sensitive online accounts.”
In order to prevent/avoid SIM swapping assaults, it is suggested that clients should stay updated with the device’s software, avoid sharing information on the web until and unless necessary, and should use 2FA by means of applications rather than having a verification code sent over SMS.