Monday, June 17, 2019

California Police Consider Cryptocurrency SIM Swapping as ‘Highest Priority’

The ‘SIM swapping’ type of cryptocurrency fraud is a menace, and it has been a thorn in the flesh of the cybercrime arm of the U.S law enforcement. According to a recent report, SIM swapping has become one of the biggest problems currently facing the law enforcement agency, alongside hack of cryptocurrency wallets, conning crypto users of their various digital assets, and false cryptocurrency news being circulated by malicious entities.

A Santa Barbara policeman, Samy Tarazi, who is highly ranked in the city’s arm of anti-cybercrime law enforcement, made some comments to the press concerning the subsequent increase in the number of ‘SIM swapping’ incidences recorded recently in the anti-cybercrime world. He said;

“The number of cryptocurrency users being defrauded and scammed is currently on the highest level it has ever been. But that’s not the alarming part. The frightening part is that several cryptocurrency asset holders are falling victim to this new menace.”

The ‘Sim Swapping’ Type of Hack

To those who have probably never heard of the term ‘SIM swapping’ before, it is a new type of scam targeting cryptocurrency users with large amounts of crypto assets. Many cryptocurrency holders use the two-factor authentication method to log in as required by some crypto exchanges. The part of this scam, however, deals with the transfer of the target’s phone contact to another SIM card possessed by the fraudster. The contact is then received and used to change the password of the victim, allowing them access to login and transfer the amount they want to their crypto accounts.

Sometimes, the transfer of the target’s phone contact to the fraudster’s SIM card can allow them access by bypassing the two-factor authentication method, thereby giving them convenient access into the victim’s crypto account. Others even use less sophisticated, less technical methods by calling customer care and tricking the representatives to provide the hacker with the victim’s data.

The sole, most alarming factor of this method of cybercrime is that it is not difficult to perform, leading to ‘widespread adoption’ of this form of scam. In fact, some crypto blogs which exposed the SIM swapping method claimed that those who perform this type of hack have insiders in different telecoms company which allows for easy access to carry out their malicious activity.

The SIM swapping type of hack gained infamous recognition after it caught a major victim in its web, Micheal Terpin, an American crypto assets holder and financier. He sued telecoms giant, AT&T, for a whopping $224 million. He claimed the telecoms company gave hackers access to his phone number to steal a large amount of his personal crypto holdings from his account, leading to a loss of over 24 million dollars’ worth of crypto assets.

Samy Tarazi also added comments concerning the SIM swapping menace. He said, ‘Stealing 100,000 dollars from someone is not new in the U.S, even when inflation was way lower. When it’s done by thieves, it requires a lot of planning, money spent, and dedication to stealing that amount of money. The shocking fact about this type of cyber fraud is that the perpetrators spend no more than 99 cents to buy a SIM card, fix it in a burner phone that costs no more than $4.99, and makes a call at no cost to Telecoms providers, carting away several hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.

The police sergeant vowed that his team would give their best in tackling the new form of cybercrime.

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