Beware of scammers using a technique called SIM swap to hack into victims’ online accounts in order to steal their cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin.
The most recent example is a 23-year-old man from Brockton, Massachusetts, who was accused by the US Department of Justice this week of spying on 10 unnamed victims’ social networking accounts and then stealing more than $530.000 in cryptocurrencies.
Meiggs and his accomplices, the Justice Department said, used the “illegal practice” of SIM swaps, in which fraudsters persuade cell phone providers to change phone numbers associated with their victims’ smartphone SIM cards with SIM cards stored on their own smartphones.
This allows fraudsters to access victims’ text messages and voice calls, which helps them reset their victims’ passwords and gain control of their cryptocurrency accounts.
To prevent SIM swap fraud, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends:
First, people should never reply to emails, calls or text messages asking for personal information. These are possible cyber phishing attacks in which hackers try to build trust with consumers in order to obtain their personal information, such as social security numbers or credit card information.
Second, the Federal Trade Commission advises individuals to limit the amount of information shared on the Internet and, “if possible, to avoid posting their full name, address or telephone number on public websites.” This information provides criminals with more data to commit theft.
The FTC also said that people should set up PINs or passwords for their mobile phone bills if fraudsters try to call the phone companies in the context of SIM swap fraud.
In addition, the FTC advises individuals to use stricter security techniques, such as multi-stage authorisation, to make it harder for criminals to access personal accounts.