British police have said they arrested eight people as part of an investigation into the Sim-swapping hijacking of US celebrities’ phones.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said sports stars, musicians and their families had been targeted by the scam in which criminals gained access to victims’ phones or accounts.
This allowed them to steal money, bitcoin and personal information, as well as hack and post from victims’ social media accounts, the NCA said.
The investigation, which involved the US Secret Service and the FBI, discovered a network operating in Britain. The British police said eight suspects, aged between 18 and 26, had been arrested in England and Scotland.
“This network targeted a large number of victims in the US and regularly attacked those they believed would be lucrative targets, such as famous sports stars and musicians,” said Paul Creffield, head of operations in the NCA’s cybercrime unit.
“As well as causing a lot of distress and disruption, we know they stole large sums from their victims, from either their bank accounts or bitcoin wallets.”
Sim-swapping involves taking control of a victim’s phone number by deactivating their Sim and switching the allocated number to a Sim belonging to one of the criminal gang. The criminals then reset passwords to gain access to victims’ contacts, banking details, emails and social media accounts.
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