Cops bust member of gang that obtained active SIM cards and used them to empty bank accounts

Cops bust member of gang that obtained active SIM cards and used them to empty bank accounts
For something so small in size, subscriber identification module (SIM) cards can create huge headaches. For example, the cops last month busted Ricky Joseph Handschumacher, a 25-year old Floridian man who used misappropriated SIM cards to purloin hundreds of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoins. Handschumacher, who was charged with grand theft and money laundering, was part of a group of nine men who used "SIM swaps" across the country in order to gain access to victims' accounts.

Similar to a previous scam we told you about a few months ago, Handschumacher and the gang would call wireless providers and request a new SIM card. That request isn't normally viewed as a red flag by carriers because a new SIM card could be needed if the old one is damaged, or if the customer switches to a new phone that uses a different sized card. While poor security on the part of the wireless operators could help such a plan succeed, the incident back in February reportedly involved a rogue T-Mobile employee.

The falsely requested SIM cards would be inserted in the criminals' own phones to access the victim's bank and cryptocurrency accounts. The gang's biggest haul was one that illegally netted them 57 Bitcoins valued at $470,000. The ill-gotten gains were divided among the nine gang members.

The scheme fell apart when the mother of one of the gang members overheard her son on the phone, pretending to be an AT&T employee. She called the cops on him and they found damaging evidence such as multiple handsets, a number of SIM cards, and a file on his computer that contained "an extensive list of names and phone numbers of people from around the world."

So what is the answer? The only fool-proof suggestion we can think of is that carriers require customers to pick up requested SIM card replacements inside retail locations and demand to be shown government-issued ID, like a driver's license. Sure, it would make such requests a pain in the ass for both the customer and the carrier, but it might help prevent the theft of a person's hard-earned money-or virtual money. Unfortunately, the gang did have inside help from some of the carriers' employees who were paid off to help the scheme succeed.

And if your phone mysteriously goes off after you receive a message that your SIM was updated, call your carrier immediately (see image at the top of the article). Remember, once the crooks have your SIM card, even two-factor authentication is useless.

source: Motherboard



1. darkkjedii

Posts: 31601; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

These criminals are getting more and more crafty, hope they get some serious time.

4. Phullofphil

Posts: 1830; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

True and yes. As technology gets more advanced in every aspect of life, will open it all up for new scammers that are not thought of yet because we don’t know how the system will be exploited

8. lyndon420

Posts: 6878; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Just another reason why I use cash whenever possible. As soon as my paycheck is deposited into my account I pay any bills I have online through my bank and then I pull out what's left. These crooks haven't figured out how to hack the bills from my wallet. Try to mug me...well you better have lots of back up with you ;) lol. Everyone should be using cash as much as possible anyway before the government takes it away completely.

15. cogito

Posts: 73; Member since: Aug 18, 2015

Just another reason why I use a horse and buggy to get to work.

2. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1109; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

Whenever I access any of my bank or credit card accounts from a new device I receive an email and text alert to verify. Guess some people aren't as worried about security

3. palmguy

Posts: 987; Member since: Mar 22, 2011

Wow. Bad son. His Mom turned him in. :-)

11. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Yup. You don't see much of people like her nowadays. Most people would just tell him to stop and warn him...and the son would usually say something like, sorry, I won't do it again.

5. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Good mother

6. yobolegend

Posts: 53; Member since: Sep 14, 2016

Bad Insider

10. jcarmstrong23

Posts: 36; Member since: Apr 27, 2014

I work for one these cell phone companies and you wouldn't believe how many times we get yelled for not giving access to an account. If you're name isn't listed as the account holder or authorized user and you don't have proper Identification then we turn you away to get properly authorized. I've had a cop yell at one of my co-workers because he didn't have ID and we wouldn't let him into the account.

12. michaelny2001

Posts: 346; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

these people need to go to jail and lined up for a soap drop. make it national news and see how fast those things will stop...out of fear. people nowadays have no fear of anything always claiming :"they have rights" taker those away and see how fast crime stops.

13. cogito

Posts: 73; Member since: Aug 18, 2015

I am not sure how feasible is a physical pickup of a SIM card is. A lot of people use MVNOs that do not have physica locations.

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