‘Internet influencers, sports stars, musicians’ among victims of cryptocurrency hackers: Europol
Europol, the European police agency, said on Wednesday it had helped stop 10 hackers suspected of stealing US $ 100 million in cryptocurrency in “SIM swap” attacks that allowed suspects to access the phones of their victims.
“The attacks orchestrated by this criminal gang have targeted thousands of victims throughout 2020, including famous internet influencers, sports stars, musicians and their families,” the agency said in a statement.
The arrests were made following an investigation carried out in cooperation with Britain, the United States, Belgium, Malta and Canada, Europol said.
The role played by Canadian law enforcement agencies was not immediately clear, but a press release from the European agency said the RCMP, Hamilton Police Service, Toronto Police Service and the Edmonton police were involved in the operation.
In a SIM swap attack, criminals can take control of a SIM card – the small computer chip that carries a phone number used to identify a customer on a telecommunications network. Usually, a telephone company has to deactivate a functioning SIM card and transfer its functions to a card controlled by hackers.
“This allowed (hackers) to steal money, cryptocurrencies and personal information, including contacts synchronized with online accounts,” Europol said in a press release detailing the operation.
“They also hijacked social media accounts to post content and send messages, posing as the victim.”
Europol has not identified the victims or indicated where the arrests took place. He advised the public not to use services that use text messages to log into online accounts because they are vulnerable in SIM swap attacks, which he says are on the increase.
One of the most notable victims of a SIM swap attack in the past was Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in 2019.