A 19-year-old man has been arrested for SIM swapping and stealing over $1 million in cryptocurrencies.
It seems that SIM swapping has been a plague over the last year. A good number of cryptocurrency enthusiasts have had their smartphone information stolen, providing criminals access to their personal data, including their cryptocurrency. Police in California have recently arrested a 19-year-old man for SIM swapping and who used his ill-gotten gains to buy a McLaren, a $200,000 luxury sports car.
The man arrested is Xzavyer Clemente Narvaez, and police allege he netted over a million dollars by SIM swapping. This criminal practice is when a crook manages to redirect a person’s cell phone service to a SIM card that they control. At that point, the victim’s phone loses service while all calls and texts, such as two-part authentication protocols, are now sent to the criminal’s phone.
Law enforcement found and interviewed several victims of Narvaez. One of them told police that he had been robbed of $150,000 in cryptocurrencies after his phone number had been stolen and rerouted. Overall, an investigation revealed that Narvaez’s Bitcoin exchange account saw a total of 157 bitcoins (worth just over $1 million) flow into it between March 12th and July 12th.
It seems that Narvaez enjoyed his ill-gotten gains. He bought a number of luxury items, but the most notable is the $200,000 McLaren, a high-end sports car. Narvaez paid part of the car’s price with Bitcoin.
SIM Swapping on the Rise
It does feel like SIM swapping is on the rise. It makes perfect sense that it’s doing so as people now have their entire lives on their cell phone.
Police were able to zero in on Narvaez due to the investigation into another SIM swapping criminal, Joel Ortiz. This particular crook stole more than $5 million in cryptocurrencies. Police found that a cellular device used to do SIM swaps by Ortiz had been used to access a Google account named Xzavyer.Narvaez@gmail.com. Some superb police investigating finally led to the arrest of Narvaez, who is facing multiple counts of property theft, damaging computer data, and identify theft.
In another case of SIM swapping, Florida police arrested 25-year-old Ricky Joseph Handschumacher recently. He was the ringleader of a hacker group that stole a sizable amount of bitcoins from their victims. One man had a total of 57 bitcoins stolen from his account after his phone number was hijacked.
One victim is fighting back. Michael Terpin is suing his service provider, AT&T, for $224 million after he had $24 million in cryptocurrencies stolen. The criminal managed to get an AT&T store employee to give him access to Terpin’s account despite not providing any ID or a password, both of which are required. Many of these SIM swapping criminals partner with a mobile phone store employee to gain access to accounts.
Krebs on Security notes that people worried about SIM swapping should disconnect important accounts from their cell phone number.
Do you worry about being a victim of SIM swapping? Let us know in the comments below.
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