The cryptocurrency industry attracts people from all strides of life, even if not everyone has honest intentions. For example, the recent theft of CAD$46 million in cryptocurrency has been tied to a Canadian teenager. The attack occurred through a SIM Swap attack, a very potent yet incredibly problematic attack vector.
Canadian Youth Arrested In Cryptocurrency Theft
Crypto enthusiasts are under attack from numerous angles. There is the chance of an exchange going out of business or disappearing, funds misappropriation, banking issues, getting an account hacked, and much more. However, one of the most problematic attacks is the SIM Swap method. Through this approach, criminals gain control over mobile phone numbers to bypass two-step authentication verification tied to a user’s account.
Performing a SIM swap usually requires some social engineering skills. A hacker or thief calls the provider tied to the mobile phone number and attempts to transfer it to a new SIM card. There are security questions to answer, although one can scrape most information from the victim’s social media profiles. Once the information has been submitted and verified, the mobile provider will transfer the number to the new SIM card. From that point onward, the culprit controls the phone number and receives any texts, calls, or 2FA messages sent to it.
More often than not, a SIM swap occurs so quickly the victim won’t even notice it until it is too late. But, unfortunately, not everyone checks the service on their phone every two minutes. At least one Canadian youth arrested in Hamilton, Ontario, pulled off such an attack. The teen is accused of stealing CAD$46 million in cryptocurrency from a victim residing in the United States.
While there was an ongoing investigation regarding this theft, law enforcement did not make much progress. Then, unexpectedly, they received some help from the Canadian youth. For reasons unknown, he used some of the stolen funds to acquire a prominent online username in the gaming community. That transaction got on the radar of the unit investigating this incident and quickly resulted in the identity of the Canadian youth. The investigation was spearheaded by the Hamilton police, collaborating with the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force and the FBI.
Following his arrest, the teenager now faces up to 10 years in prison. Moreover, Hamilton police officials confiscated various cryptocurrencies valued at over CAD$7 million. It is unclear if the police will recover more cryptocurrency funds, as there is still CAD$39 million missing, minus the funds spent on the online username. No court date has been set for this investigation at this time.