Hackers Stole $100 Million of Crypto from US Celebrities — Arrested by Europol

Bitcoin cybercriminal
Bitcoin cybercriminal

Europol, the European police agency, has arrested over 10 cybercriminals. The hackers obtained over $100 million in digital currencies using the SIM-swapping technique. According to an official press release, the hackers have targeted high-profile victims. Some victims include sports stars, musicians, and famous internet influencers in the United States.

SIM-swapping technique is a low-cost, easy to perform way of stealing from victims. The attackers need to find information about the wireless connection of their target, and most of the time, all the hackers need is a phone number. Additionally, according to cyber-security experts, people in the United States who have phone number accounts with wireless carriers are vulnerable to SIM-swapping hack. 

Europol said in a statement, “The attacks orchestrated by this criminal gang targeted thousands of victims throughout 2020. Moreover, the criminals are believed to have stolen from them over USD 100 million in cryptocurrencies. They illegally gainned access to victims’ phones.”

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Europol was finally able to arrest the 10 hackers After 12 months of collaboration. Earlier, the United States, United Kingdom, Malta, Belgium, and Canada have worked together to arrest the hackers. Europol coordinated the international operations across Europe. The eight arrests followed two first arrests in Malta and Belgium respectively. 

 “Initiated in the spring of 2020, the investigation uncovered how a network composed of a dozen criminals worked together. Hackers accessed the victims’ phone numbers. They took control of their apps or accounts by changing the passwords.” Europol added in the statement.

SIM-swap hackers are becoming more popular

In recent years, SIM-swapping became a popular technique that even non-technical hackers can easily perform. Consequently, many victims launched stopsimcrime website to denounce the hacking. 

Meanwhile, several SIM-swap hack victims sued mobile service providers for failing to protect them. Additionally, Mobile services provider AT&T was sued by several victims of SIM-Swap. However, there is still no safe mechanism that can protect Bitcoin holders except for not linking their phone numbers to their Bitcoin wallets.

In conclusion, the only way you can decrease your chances of being hacked through the SIM-swap technique is to add a PIN code or password to your wireless account.