FBI Warns Of Spike In Schemes To Break Into Your Phone And Nab Money From Your Bank Account


Sophisticated scams that hijack your mobile phone and gain access to money accounts are surging, the FBI said in an alert.

The number of “SIM swapping” complaints jumped to a whopping 1,611 in 2021 alone compared to 320 during the entire three-year period from January 2018-December 2020, the FBI said in a PSA. The losses skyrocketed to $68 million in 2021 compared to $12 million over the same three-year period.

A SIM swap is not your average cyber scam but is a sophisticated, multi-stage heist. When a swap occurs, criminals trick the wireless carrier into switching the SIM – a computer chip inside a mobile phone that contains an ID number unique to the phone’s subscriber – to the criminal’s SIM.

Attackers then perform password resets for the user’s mobile phone account, allowing them to reset the victim’s account log-in credentials and use those credentials to access the victim’s account without authorization.

“Once the SIM is swapped, the victim’s calls, texts, and other data are diverted to the criminal’s device. This access allows criminals to send ‘Forgot Password’ or ‘Account Recovery’ requests to the victim’s email and other online accounts associated with the victim’s mobile telephone number. Using SMS-based two-factor authentication, mobile application providers send a link or one-time passcode via text to the victim’s number, now owned by the criminal, to access accounts. The criminal uses the codes to login and reset passwords, gaining control of online accounts associated with the victim’s phone profile.”

Criminals pull off SIM swap schemes using social engineering, phishing, or insider threat, the FBI said. While social engin… (Read more)

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