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REACT Focuses on Cryptocurrency SIM Swapping as “Highest Priority”

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Law enforcement officials in the United States consider “SIM swapping” one of its “highest priorities” in an effort to fight cryptocurrency fraud.

This is according to a report coming from security news and investigation blog KrebsonSecurity.

Samy Tarazi, a police sergeant in Santa Barbara and a supervisor of the REACT Task Force — a group focused on fighting cybercrime — said the instances of the crime had risen substantially.

“For the amounts being stolen and the number of people being successful at taking it, the numbers are probably historic,” he relayed.

SIM swapping denotes to the act of remotely hijacking the SIM card in a mobile device — for example by gaining access to an operator’s customer database as in one high-profile example involving millions of dollars — and making use of the resulting control over the device to access poorly-protected private data.

The data that is proving to be most valuable to SIM swappers is cryptocurrency login details and wallet passwords, that can result in massive amounts of money disappearing.

Tarazi said:

“If someone gets robbed of $100,000 that’s a huge case, but we’re now dealing with someone who buys a 99 cent SIM card off eBay, plugs it into a cheap burner phone, makes a call and steals millions of dollars. That’s pretty remarkable.”

REACT, which stands for Regional Enforcement Allied Computer Team, is based in Santa Barbara and is hard at work in trying to bring the active phenomenon under control.

Tarazi added that SIM swapping is at the moment, the squad’s primary focus.

“It’s probably REACT’s highest priority at the moment, given that SIM swapping is actively happening to someone probably even as we speak right now,” he warned, adding:

“It’s also because there are a lot of victims in our immediate jurisdiction.”

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