Two men from Massachusetts were charged by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on multiple counts, including wire fraud, computer fraud, abuse and identity theft. The defendants, Eric Meiggs, 21 and Declan Harrington, 20 were allegedly attempting to steal from digital currency companies’ directors and others “who likely had significant amounts of cryptocurrency,” and those “who had high value or ‘OG’ (‘Original Gangster’) social media account names.”
“Meiggs and Harrington allegedly conspired to hack into, and take control over, these victims’ online accounts so they could obtain things of value, such as cryptocurrency. They used an illegal practice known as “SIM-swapping” and other techniques to access, take control of, and in some cases steal cryptocurrency from, the accounts,” according to the press release.
Meiggs and Harrington attempted to steal over $550,000 in cryptocurrency from 10 different persons, and even gained access to two social network accounts.
According to the indictment, the victims were somehow related to the crypto world but they haven’t been identified. One of them had a Bitcoin ATM machine and the other one managed a “blockchain-based business.”
By gaining access to the victims’ cell phone numbers, the defendants easily broke into different social media accounts such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook etc. Commonly, phone numbers are one of the primary password reset methods for all social media networks.
The indictment also says that in March 2018, the defendants obtained access to one victim’s Facebook and Gmail accounts. The two of them then texted the victim’s contacts, requesting from one of them to transfer $100,000 in cryptocurrency.
The defendants also forced some individuals to grant them access to several Instagram and Tumblr internet usernames. In one of the cases, Meiggs SIM-swapped someone’s phone and blackmailed the victim to give up the Tumblr account information to get the number back.
Meiggs and Harrington shall be presumed innocent unless there’s strong evidence to prove otherwise.
“The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law,” says the press release.
The founder of the crypto data library called Messari Ryan Selkis as well as Coin Center’s Neeraj Agrawal and VideoCoin’s Seth Shapiro have also reported encountering similar problems in recent weeks.
Michael Terpin, the famous crypto investor, has filed complaints after being scammed via Sim-Swapping, suing both his mobile provider AT&T and the offender. Terpin’s case against the mobile provider hasn’t closed yet, however, he has won a $75 million in a lawsuit against the perpetrator Nicholas Truglia, 21.
In a similar case, the angel investor Gregg Bennett filed a lawsuit against Bittrex, stating the exchange failed to protect him from the burglary.
“In this case, Bennett filed suit in Washington state’s King County Superior Court, alleging that Bittrex violated its own published security protocols and ignored industry standards, missing the chance to stop the high-stakes burglary. He also alleged that Bittrex failed to act as the April 15, 2019 hack was in process or respond quickly enough once notified by him directly,” according to Coindesk.