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02/15/2022

Criminals Increasing SIM Swap Schemes to Steal Millions of Dollars from US Public

FBI

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is issuing this announcement to inform mobile carriers and the public of the increasing use of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) swapping by criminals to steal money from fiat and virtual currency accounts. From January 2018 to December 2020, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 320 complaints related to SIM swapping incidents with adjusted losses of approximately $12 million. In 2021, IC3 received 1,611 SIM swapping complaints with adjusted losses of more than $68 million.

HOW A SIM SWAP SCHEME WORKS

SIM swapping is a malicious technique where criminal actors target mobile carriers to gain access to victims' bank accounts, virtual currency accounts, and other sensitive information. Criminal actors primarily conduct SIM swap schemes using social engineering, insider threat, or phishing techniques. Social engineering involves a criminal actor impersonating a victim and tricking the mobile carrier into switching the victim's mobile number to a SIM card in the criminal's possession. Criminal actors using insider threat to conduct SIM swap schemes pay off a mobile carrier employee to switch a victim's mobile number to a SIM card in the criminal's possession. Criminal actors often use phishing techniques to deceive employees into downloading malware used to hack mobile carrier systems that carry out SIM swaps.

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