- SIM swapping incidents highest among crimes reported in California
- Authorities place emphasis on fighting SIM swapping in California
- SIM swapping perpetrated by kids according to the police
Security news and investigation blog KrebsOnSecurity published an article on November 7, 2018, with REACT Taskforce, a law enforcement group based in California that is dedicated to fighting cyber-crime.
Police consider SIM Swapping their Highest Priority
The REACT group consider “SIM swapping” its highest priority in a bid to tackle cryptocurrency malpractices. Fraudsters can use a 99 cent SIM card bought off eBay to execute thefts that amount to millions of dollars.
Police sergeant, Samy Taranzi, will supervise the efforts to apprehend the perpetrators of the crimes according to the report. The sergeant affirmed that these crimes have escalated in recent times with California being the main focus due to two reasons: most victims of SIM swapping live in California or are operating a business there, and recent indications show an upsurge in those numbers.
These crimes have increased exponentially in recent times that the team has decided to make SIM swapping its number one focus. Something that has drawn a lot of interest is the fact that according to Taranzi, only a handful of individuals are responsible for those crimes, the team reports that not more than a small number of individuals is behind the attack. However, the attacks have gained popularity now because they are more organized and rampant.
Taranzi seems particularly concerned that attacks are being carried out by young adults in the 19-22 age range who can steal millions of dollars in cryptos.
What is SIM Swapping?
This is basically hacking a SIM card from a device that is not owned by the hacker. The process is very complex and cannot be carried out without proper knowledge. The main issue here is encountered by the fact that the hackers are very skilled and that SIM swapping is very profitable and cheap to put into operation.
According to the reports, SIM swapping is relatively easy to pull off and requires a limited amount of resources with hundreds of people reporting that they have had their phone number hijacked in the so-called “Port Out Scam.”
How does having someone’s phone number help one steal crypto?
Essentially once the hackers have complete access to the phone number, they reset the owners’ passwords and break into their accounts inclusive of email accounts on crypto transactions and exchanges. This also means they get exclusive access to crypto funds stored on hot wallets.
Tactics employed by fraudsters vary, but most employ the use of the so-called “plugs” where telecom insiders are paid to do illegal swaps.