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Over the past years, fraudulent activities through SIM swapping have been the rave. Phone numbers of unsuspecting victims are being hijacked through SIM swapping and used to access relevant and sensitive information in the victim’s phone; crypto wallets are a good target.
Crypto wallets are designed to be protected by the device. Consequently, anyone who gains hold of the necessary details is considered the owner and allowed uninterrupted access to the wallets. This nefarious act was being broadly reported recently in the district of California. Stemming from that, a task force was specially set up to investigate issues concerning SIM swapping. The Regional Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT) reported that they received an overwhelming amount of SIM swapping complaints last year. But the trend has gone down the hill this year.
The team has been actively investigating and hunting down SIM hijackers across the district. So far, they have been able to make some noteworthy arrests such as the case of Joseph Harris, a popular sim swapper who has accrued about 14 million USD in cryptocurrency through SIM swapping. Nicholas Truglia is yet another noteworthy suspect arrested by the REACT team. Through SIM swapping, Truglia has amassed millions of dollars in Bitcoin. A third reported arrest is the case of Xzavyer Narvaez, who is currently accused of defrauding his victims of about 1 million USD in Bitcoin.
Although a number of arrests have been made, the case of Joel Ortiz, a 20-year-old college student accused of defrauding about 40 victims of over 5 million USD in cryptocurrency is the first time a suspect will be convicted for SIM swapping. The Deputy District Attorney in Santa Clara, CA, Erin West, reported that Ortiz accepted a plea deal to serve 10 years imprisonment for his crime.
Several agents who have been investigating SIM swapping-related crimes were happy to hear of Ortiz’s conviction. They opined that this will send a message to other SIM hackers out there that they are being tracked even to their basement and their mothers’ home. Speaking on Ortiz’s conviction, Samy Tarazi, one of the agents who worked hard to track Ortiz, expressed excitement over the conviction and stated that Ortiz’s case will send a strong message to the community of SIM hackers. In addition, the Deputy District Attorney asserted that each arrest made so far had sent shockwaves through the community of SIM hackers, making them aware that they are not safe even in their basements.
Although the Deputy District Attorney declined to state the number of ongoing investigations currently being conducted, she pointed out that they have made new arrests and served a few search warrants.