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20-year-old Indicted For Stealing Funds Through 'SIM Swapping'

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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. announced the indictment of 20-year-old Dawson Bakies for stealing the identities and funds of more than 50 victims across the United States in a sophisticated "SIM swapping" scheme executed from his Ohio home.

Bakies is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Identity Theft, Grand Larceny, Computer Tampering, and Scheme to Defraud, among other charges.

"Today my Office is putting the small handful of sophisticated 'SIM Swappers' out there on notice," said District Attorney Vance.

The filings in the court between October 2018 and December 2018 show that Bakies fraudulently ported the cell phone numbers of at least 50 individuals across the U.S. to multiple iPhones he possesses.

It was noticed that he bypassed the authentication security to get access to online accounts. He did this by requesting the recovery codes to be sent to phone numbers connected to the online accounts.

Bakie is alleged to have chosen people who are active in cryptocurrency, partly due to the difficulty in tracing the theft and transfer of cryptocurrency.

He accessed 18 online accounts belonging to three Manhattan-based victims, including their Google accounts and cryptocurrency accounts, and changed the passwords so that victims cannot get back the password in control again.

Bakies stole about $10,000 in cryptocurrency from three victims and further attempted to extort one of the victims by demanding a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin.

"SIM swapping" or "SIM hijacking" is a growing crime in the telecommunications world that, in a few moments' time, can allow a thief to steal millions of dollars of an unsuspecting victim's assets. This can be done with little more than a persuasive plea for assistance, a willing telecommunications carrier representative, and an electronic impersonation of the victim.

According to a report on krebsonsecurity.com, the U.S. State of California is said to be the hub of unauthorized "SIM swaps." The report says kids aged mainly between 19 and 22 are being able to steal millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies.

SIM swapping attacks primarily target individuals who are visibly active in the cryptocurrency space, such as people working at cryptocurrency-focused companies, speakers at public conferences on blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies, and those openly talk on their crypto investments on social media.

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