Europol just dismantled a $100M crypto hacking crew

europol, crypto
Tobias Arhelger /

Europol arrested eight hackers on Tuesday over a $100 million SIM-swapping campaign that stole cryptocurrency from thousands of victims last year — including celebrities.

The hackers targeted “famous influencers, sport stars, musicians, and their families,” according to Europol’s press release.

Europol found a dozen criminals working together to SIM-swap crypto investors and steal their digital assets.

SIM-swapping usually involves tricking telecom support staff to port SIM cards to a phone under control of the attacker(s) — but “inside jobs” also occur.

“This enabled them to steal money, cryptocurrencies and personal information, including contacts synced with online accounts,” said Europol.

“They also hijacked social media accounts to post content and send messages masquerading as the victim,” said Europol.

Authorities noted the arrests sprung from an international investigation into “high-profile” SIM-swapping cases in the US. Two members of the gang were earlier arrested in Malta and Belgium.

The US Secret Service, the FBI, and Homeland Security helped uncover the fraudsters, among other international agencies.

There’s currently no word on exactly which cryptocurrencies were stolen.

Europol released this handy video that explains SIM-swapping and social engineering.

[Read more: Motherload — Bitcoin giveaway scam network steals $6M in 6 months]

Cybersecurity experts advise the use of multi-factor authentication with physical devices like the Yubikey to protect sensitive accounts, rather than SMS codes which can be intercepted by SIM-swappers.

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