Alleged $150K SIM swap scammer charged in New York

Law enforcement authorities in New York have charged a man in connection with an alleged SIM swap scam which saw victims lose out to the tune of $150,000 in digital currency, according to reports.

Alabama resident Joseph Chase Oaks, 22, is facing a slew of charges in connection with the fraudulent cryptocurrency scheme, including grand larceny, identity theft and computer trespass.

According to prosecutors, Oaks ran a scam which harvested data relating to 50 online accounts, which he used to steal digital currency over the period running from August 2018 to October 2019.

Using SIM swapping strategies, Oaks was allegedly able to transfer the phone numbers of some 300 individuals to devices in his possession, effectively allowing him to bypass two-factor authentication security. This allegedly allowed Oaks to gain access to crypto accounts, where he was able to steal tokens from his victims.

Law enforcement have said they suspect Oaks of working alongside others in the scam, suggesting it reached across the United States and Canada, across some 60 devices and hundreds of individual SIM cards.

In a statement to press, Cy Vance, Manhattan District Attorney, said instances of SIM swapping scams like the one allegedly pulled by Oaks are on the increase, two years after the first case of its kind was prosecuted in the state.

SIM swap scams involve fraudsters tricking, or collaborating, with mobile network employees to transfer cell phone numbers to new devices—without the permission of the original device owner.

Gaining access to the number allows scammers to unlock crypto wallets secured by two-factor authentication, effectively removing this layer of security protection over crypto funds held in wallets.

It remains to be seen whether the charges against Oaks will result in prosecution, pending the outcome of a trial into the matter.

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups-from BitMEX to Binance, Bitcoin.com, BlockstreamShapeShiftCoinbase, Ripple and Ethereum—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

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