Nine people charged – suspected of having stolen over $2.4 million worth of cryptocurrencies

Nine people charged – suspected of having stolen over $2.4 million worth of cryptocurrencies.

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Christian Ploog

christian.ploog@trijo.co

The defendants, who are aged between 19 and 28, allegedly stole peoples identities by so-called "SIM card hijacking" in order to steal their cryptocurrencies.

Six people linked to a hacker group called “The Community” are now being prosecuted by US authorities for wire fraud and identity theft. In addition, three people who previously worked at mobile operators are charged for having helped the hacker group.

This was announced by Matthew Schneider, US attorney for the eastern district of Michigan, in a press release on Thursday.

The nine defendants are aged between 19 and 28. Eight of them are Americans and one, a 20-year-old man, is from Ireland. The Irish man was arrested on Thursday and the United States has now requested him extradited. In the man’s home the police found, among other things, a computer and various luxury goods, the Irish news channel RTÉ reports.

SIM card hijacking

According to the indictment, the defendants have stolen people’s identities through so-called “SIM card hijacking” in order to steal their cryptocurrencies.

SIM card hijacking is a kind of ID theft where the perpetrator exploits weaknesses in the handling of mobile numbers by telecom operators. For example, if a perpetrator contacts the customer service of an operator and manages to persuade them to divert a person’s cell phone number, the hacker can then use it to bypass security systems on different sites by, for example, requesting a password reset.

“Mobile phones today are not only a means of communication but also a means of identification. This case should serve as a reminder to all of us to protect our personal and financial information from those who seek to steal it”, says Matthew Schneider in the press release.

Suspected of having stolen $2.4 million worth of cryptocurrencies

With the help of the cell phone number, the hackers allegedly were able to log in to the victim’s various accounts, such as email, cloud storage, crypto wallets and crypto exchanges, and steal private encryption keys or crypto assets.

According to the indictment, the hacker group executed seven attacks that resulted in the theft of cryptocurrency worth over $2,4 million.

“The allegations against these defendants are the result of a complex cryptocurrency and identity theft investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations, which spanned two continents”, says Angie Salazar, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Detroit.

If the defendants are convicted of the crimes they are accused of, they risk over 20 years in prison.

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