The Manhattan district attorney issues a warning to SIM-swappers.
The New York State Supreme Court has indicted Dawson Bakies for stealing the identities of more than 50 people in the US using a SIM-swapping scheme. According to a press release published by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Bakies accessed accounts associated with the cryptocurrency holdings of his victims, stealing from some and extorting the others.
A SIM-swapping hack occurs when a hacker convinces a cell phone company representative to port another customer’s phone number to the hacker’s phone, potentially giving the thief access to the victim’s email, banking, and investment accounts. This is the method Bakies allegedly used to port the cell phone numbers of 50 different individuals to multiple iPhones in his possession from October 2018 to December 2018.
Along with the 52 counts of “identity theft, grand larceny, computer tampering, and scheme to defraud,” the release states that three Manhattan-based victims had approximately $10,000 in cryptocurrency stolen from them. The 20-year-old also attempted to extort one of the three Manhattan-based victims, demanding a ransom to be paid in bitcoin.
The Columbus Police and the New York Police Department were able to recover six iPhones used by Bakies, with “dozens of text messages containing recovery passwords for the victims’ online accounts.” They also retrieved a laptop with a file titled “Hacker Shit!” that documented Bakies’ “finished targets.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. used the press release as an opportunity to put SIM-swappers and wireless carriers “on notice,” stating:
“We know what you’re doing, we know how to find you, and we will hold you criminally accountable, no matter where you are. We’re also asking wireless carriers to wake up to the new reality that by quickly porting SIMs – in order to ease new activations and provide speedy customer services – you are exposing unwitting, law-abiding customers to massive identity theft and fraud.”
In November 2018, ETHNews covered the arbitration claims made against AT&T and T-Mobile for allegedly failing to protect customers from SIM-swapping hacks. The Silver Miller law firm, which filed the claims, went as far as to say that the two wireless providers actually assisted thieves in perpetrating SIM-swapping hacks by “leaving holes in their security protocols and failing to properly train and monitor their employees.”
Just two weeks later, following on the arbitration claims’ coattails, Nicholas Truglia was arrested in Manhattan and charged with SIM-swapping $1 million in cryptocurrency from Silicon Valley-based targets. Federal agents were able to recover $300,000 in stolen funds from a hardware wallet in Truglia’s apartment.
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