Cybercriminals Clean Up Cryptocurrency Using SIM Card Swap Scam

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa resident David Bryant knew something was wrong last October when he discovered that Coinbase notifications had been removed from his account and his connection was no longer working. Then, when he tried to call his crypto account holder, he discovered that his cell phone was unable to make or receive calls.

It turned out that it was not a confluence of coincidences. Bryant was the victim of a crime.

Thieves stole David’s email and phone number in order to intercept his two-factor identification code. Once they got access to his Coinbase account, they emptied it.

“I lost about $15,000 worth of crypto,” David said.

It was money he planned to use to help pay for part of his daughter’s college education.

David was a victim of what is known as “SIM card swapping fraud”. According to the Federal Trade Commission, it is a growing crime. The criminals call and convince your wireless service provider that they are you and need your phone number switched to a new carrier and a new SIM card that they control.

And with the proliferation of the use of phones for added security, this number opens up Pandora’s box for your accounts.

“Typically they will have access to a computer or an email account (and) from there they can gain preliminary access to find out what is in someone’s crypto or bank accounts,” said said cybersecurity expert Ryan Malize.

That’s why it’s crucial for consumers to do more to secure their data and devices.

To protect yourself:

  • Use strong passwords that are changed regularly and saved securely using password management tools like LastPass
  • Enable multi-factor authentication for all accounts, including email

For added protection, Malize suggested downloading what’s called a second factor app. It generates a one-time code on your real device, not a text, in order to access your accounts.

In David’s case, the thieves also stole $2,000 from a checking account he linked to Coinbase.

“They said there was nothing they could do because these transactions are irreversible,” David said.

ABC Action News investigator Jackie Callaway contacted David’s mobile phone provider, TracFone. The company responded with a statement.

“We have recently become aware of bad actors transferring or fraudulently porting certain TracFone mobile phone numbers to other carriers. Since discovering this activity, we have made improvements to the security of customers’ mobile accounts and are working directly with customers who have been affected. »


The company has also asked affected customers to contact them.

If you are the target of a SIM swap scam, contact your mobile provider immediately and regain control of your number. Then, immediately change all of your account passwords and report any authorized debits to the bank or company.

About Marion Browning

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