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US authorities arrest 2 in alleged SIM swap cryptocurrency theft scheme

Steven Zheng

Two men have been arrested and charged in U.S. District Court in Boston for their role in a nationwide SIM swap scheme in which the pair allegedly hijacked victims' phones and social media accounts to steal cryptocurrency, representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), FBI and IRS announced Thursday.

According to the DOJ, Eric Meiggs and Declan Harrington targeted executives of cryptocurrency companies and others who have "high value" social media account names. Meiggs and Harrington would allegedly try to gain access to their victims' phone numbers by convincing phone carriers to reassign their numbers to a SIM card owned by the duo. The men would then allegedly use the stolen devices and accounts to reset passwords to gain access to victims' online cryptocurrency wallets and private keys.

According to the DOJ's indictment, Meiggs and Harrington targeted at least 10 individuals across the U.S. and allegedly stole, or attempted to steal, over $500,000 in cryptocurrencies from these individuals.

SIM swapping is a common problem in the cryptocurrency community. In October, an AT&T customer sued the wireless carrier, alleging that AT&T failed to protect his account from a SIM swap which resulted in a theft of over $1.8 million in cryptocurrencies.