SIM swapper charged in cryptocurrency theft scheme

A College of California San Diego pupil named Richard Yuan Li was indicted on August twenty sixth for a SIM swapping scheme that concerned stealing cellphone numbers and accounts and extorting not less than 40 folks for cryptocurrency and different funds, based on a brand new launch the US Division of Justice shared on Monday.

In keeping with the indictment (PDF), Li satisfied Apple customer support in 2018 to ship him a alternative iPhone 8 for one he claimed was misplaced within the mail. Li and others then satisfied carriers to port victims’ cellphone numbers to the iPhone 8 to take management of their accounts — and in some instances, drained their crypto wallets instantly.

“Li and his co-conspirators contacted victims and demanded that they pay ransoms to be able to keep away from additional hurt, together with further account compromises, the lack of further cryptocurrency, and the discharge of victims’ confidentiality info the conspirators obtained,” the DOJ writes.

If Li is convicted for all counts, together with wire fraud, aggravated identification theft, and “conspiracy to have interaction in interstate communication with intent to extort and to commit pc fraud and abuse,” he may serve 20 years in jail and pay a tremendous as much as $250,000, amongst different attainable fees.

SIM swapping is the follow of stealing somebody’s identification by assuming their cellphone quantity. Usually, numbers from unsuspecting victims are ported over to burner telephones — typically by asking carriers to do it — after which scammers use these telephones to impersonate the sufferer and seize management of their on-line accounts. Li’s case is an unlucky reminder of how widespread SIM swapping is. In 2019, it even occurred to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Cellphone numbers being the important thing ingredient for identification theft has loads to do with the widespread method two-factor authentication is about up. By default, many on-line providers provide two-factor authentication however use a cell phone because the second technique for figuring out somebody. With stolen cellphone numbers, that may simply as simply turn out to be a foothold to taking up somebody’s account.

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