DOJ Charges Trio Behind $400 Million SIM Swap Attack on FTX

The United States Department of Justice has charged three individuals accused of masterminding the SIM-swapping attack that siphoned over $400 million from FTX. The indictment of the trio appears to undercut claims that incarcerated FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was the mastermind behind the hack.

FTX’s Lax Security

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has leveled charges against three individuals allegedly involved in a SIM-swapping gang responsible for siphoning $400 million from the cryptocurrency exchange FTX. The heist occurred immediately after FTX filed for bankruptcy. According to an indictment filed in a Washington court, the trio illicitly obtained information on 50 victims.

The accused — Robert Powell, Emily Hernandez, and Carter Rohn — then exploited this stolen information to deceive mobile phone companies. By doing so, they managed to reroute the victims’ phone numbers to a dummy device. The indictment of the trio meanwhile appears to undercut claims that incarcerated FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was the mastermind behind the hack.

Described as a type of account takeover fraud that generally targets a weakness in two-factor authentication and two-step verification, SIM-swapping attacks have been on the rise.

In a recent report, cybersecurity firm Stroz Friedberg Digital Forensics highlights a concerning trend — an increase in SIM-swapping attacks across diverse industries. Notably, these attacks have of late seemingly targeted cryptocurrency and crypto-adjacent companies

According to the Bloomberg report, the trio targeted FTX users and other crypto entities for two years because they had lax security. While the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not explicitly named FTX as the affected crypto exchange, two insiders reportedly confirmed that it corresponds to the “victim company 1” mentioned in the indictment.

Meanwhile, for perpetrating this attack, Powell, Hernandez, and Rohn have been charged with fraud and identity theft.

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