First hacker convicted for SIM swapping gets 10 years in prison for stealing millions

[ FEB 05, 2019 ]

A college student is facing 10 years in prison for stealing millions in cryptocurrency using a method called “SIM swapping.”

20-year-old Joel Ortiz of Boston accepted a plea deal for stealing more than $5 million in cryptocurrency from around 40 victims. Ortiz plead guilty to the crime and was sentenced to 10 years in prison as part of his plea deal.

SIM swapping is a technique that mainly involves the social engineering of a target’s mobile phone provider. Using personal information obtained on their target, a hacker will attempt to convince the target’s mobile phone provider to port their phone number over to a SIM card belonging to the hacker.

Once the swap occurs, the hacker has essentially hijacked their target’s mobile phone number. One-time passwords, verification codes, and two-factor authorization that goes through a user’s mobile device via phone call or text message gets sent to the hacker.

Cyber Security Tips:

  • Inquire with your mobile operator if you have no network connectivity and you are not receiving any calls or SMS for unusually long periods.
  • Do not neglect messages sent from your network provider that highlight a probable SIM-Swap.Remember to respond quickly to such messages.
  • Never switch off your smartphone in the event of you receiving numerous unknown calls.It could be a ploy to get you to turn off your phone and prevent you from noticing a tampered network connection.Even if you are frustrated by such events, do not switch off your smartphone.
  • Register for instant alerts (both SMS and Emails) that inform you of any activity regarding your bank account.
  • Check your bank statements and online banking transaction history regularly so you can identify any issues or irregularities.Almost all the banks offer mobile applications to their customers which let them pay their bills,recharge their mobiles,book bus tickets etc., also let the user to have a look at the last 5 transactions, enquire the balance etc., Use such mobile banking applications to stay safe as you continue to enjoy the benefits of convenient and secure banking.


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