Manhattan’s District Attorney (DA) recently alleged the indictment of an individual for thieving identities and funds, including crypto through SIM swapping. The 20-year-old defendant, Dawson Bakies, has been accused of seemingly stealing the identities of over 50 victims in the United States. This announcement was reported in an official press release from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on February 1.
Dawson Bakies is believed to rob funds from some of his victims in the United States. He is currently charged with identity theft, grand larceny, computer tampering and scheme to defraud among other charges. All the charges were made in a New York State Supreme Court indictment. Furthermore, a press release by the Manhattan DA claims that the case is the first of its kind of SIM swapping for crypto stealing in New York.
The SIM swapping scheme involved redirecting the traffic of at least 50 different people to multiple iPhones in Dawson Bakies’ possession. He then accessed 18 online accounts of three Manhattan residents. These included their Google accounts as well as multiple cryptocurrency exchange accounts.
Once he gained access, Dawson Bakies reportedly stole over $10,000 in cryptocurrency from a total of three victims. He also changed the account’s passwords to prevent the victims from accessing them. Bakies even attempted extortion of one of the victims by demanding payment in Bitcoin (BTC).
Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. said that his office is “putting the small handful of sophisticated ‘SIM Swappers’ out there on notice,” before concluding “we know what you’re doing, we know how to find you, and we will hold you criminally accountable, no matter where you are.”
SIM swapping process is a kind of identity theft. In this process, the thief routes the victim’s cellular traffic to their own phone. This is done via the usage of social engineering to convince wireless service providers to redirect the victim’s cellular data to the SIM card that is contained in the thief’s phone.
Once access to the victim’s phone number is obtained, the thief can start using two-factor-authentication to access the victim’s digital accounts, including those on cryptocurrency exchanges.
The District Attorney even warned wireless service providers to take more precautions. He asked them to, “Wake up to the new reality that by quickly porting SIMs – to ease new activations and provide speedy customer service – you are exposing unwitting, law-abiding customers to massive identity theft and fraud.”