European law enforcement agency Europol (Europol) has arrested 10 people believed to be members of criminal gangs who stole about $100 million worth of cryptocurrency. The arrest was made under an international investigation against a series of sim card exchange attacks that occurred in 2020. Europol said the criminal group also targeted well-known victims in the United States.
Hijacking of mobile devices
In a statement after the arrest, the law enforcement agency explained that eight members of the gang were arrested on February 9. Two other members, one from Malta and the other from Belgium, were arrested earlier. As stated in the statement, the SIM exchange group has targeted thousands of victims including “famous Internet influencers, sports stars, musicians and their families”.
At the same time, in a brief description of how criminal networks operate, law enforcement agencies said:
The investigation discovered how a network of more than a dozen criminals worked together to access the victim’s phone number and control their applications or accounts by changing their passwords. This allows them to steal money, cryptocurrency and personal information, including contacts synchronized with online accounts.
The agency’s investigation is a joint effort of five countries and found that these criminals also “hijacked social media accounts to post content and send messages.”
Avoid being a victim
At the same time, Europol also revealed that it has now identified “SIM swap crime” as “the main trend of the latest Europol Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment.” Therefore, the agency reminds all potential targets of such crimes, “Anyone and anyone with a mobile phone can become a victim.”
To avoid becoming a victim, Europol recommends that mobile phone users keep their “device software” up to date and refrain from responding to “suspicious e-mails or phone calls with callers asking for your personal information.” In addition, mobile phone users are encouraged to “limit the amount of personal data they share online and use two-factor authentication for online services.”
Do you agree that SIM card exchange is a growing criminal threat? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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