SIM Swapping

NYC ‘SIM Swapping’ Spotlights A Tech-savvy Fraud Targeting Cryptocurrency

A tech-savvy bank robber didn’t wear any mask and carry any gun but used the little chip inside a smartphone to steal thousands of dollars. And, this is becoming an increasingly popular strain of e-fraud, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

The New York’s grand jury returned a 52-count indictment on Friday against Dawson Bakies, 20, of Columbus, charging him with grand larceny, identity theft, as well as computer tampering among other charges.

Bakies is convicted with “SIM Swapping.”

He impersonated the owners of smartphones, convinced their wireless providers for porting phone numbers over to iPhones he owned and then accessed victim’s online accounts by completing two-factor authentication, as per the court records.

Chief of the cyber-crime bureau in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, Elizabeth Roper said –

“This isn’t a new type of fraud, per se, but it has certainly become more popular as crypto-currency has become more widely adopted. People who are users of cryptocurrency often access those funds using information that is on their cell phones.”

Bakies targeted nearly 50 different victims across the country who were not chosen randomly, in accordance with the indictment.

Elizabeth Roper stated in an interview –

“The victims targeted in this case were publicly-active in the crypto-currency space. There’s a belief that people who are out there writing about or talking about crypto-currency are going to have holdings in one or more crypto-currencies. They’re attractive targets.”

Bakies is charged with stealing more than $10,000 in cryptocurrency from 3 Manhattan victims, with a lot of from the others.

A Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance, said –

“Today my office is putting the small handful of sophisticated ‘SIM Swappers’ out there on notice. We know what you’re doing, we know how to find you, and we will hold you criminally accountable, no matter where you are.”

However, Bakies pleaded not guilty and was bailed on $100,000.

When investigators looked into the matter, they found several devices used in the scheme, including a laptop with an encrypted drive with a document named “Hacker [expletive]!”

The documents had the names of “finished targets” including the 3 Manhattan victims, in accordance with the court affidavit.