A Massachusetts man has pleaded guilty to running a yearslong scam that used SIM swapping and other hacking techniques to steal more than $530,000 worth of cryptocurrency, the U.S. Justice Department has announced.
Eric Meiggs pleaded guilty to seven counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud, computer fraud and abuse, and aggravated identity theft, prosecutors say.
Meiggs, 23, and co-conspirator Declan Harrington, 22, stole money using SIM swapping, and they also took over the social media and email accounts of several victims and threatened their families in an attempt to extort more virtual currency, prosecutors alleged in the pair’s indictment. Meiggs and Harrington were arrested in November 2019 (see: DOJ: Pair Used SIM Swapping Scam to Steal Cryptocurrency).
Meiggs, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 15, faces a mandatory minimum penalty of two years in prison. Harrington is charged as a co-conspirator under the joint 11-count indictment.
SIM swapping involves convincing a mobile operator’s customer service employee to move a cell phone number to a different SIM card or port it to another carrier.
Once they swapped SIM cards, Meiggs and Harrington would pose as one of the victims and contact the online service providers and request a password reset be sent to the compromised phone number, prosecutors say.
“The cybercriminals then reset the victim’s account login credentials and used those credentials to access the victim’s account without authorization,” prosecutors say.