Spanish Police dismantles SIM swapping gang emptying bank accounts

Criminals in Spain frauded victims with sim cards swapping scheme

SIM swapping attacks rocketingSpanish police arrests criminals stealing money via SIM swapping

The fraudsters ring was stopped as last week Spain police arrested eight individuals who are to believe have connections with a series of SIM swapping attacks. Spain's National Police is investigating the case in which suspects allegedly used phishing texts, emails, and instant messages to masquerade as banks. The people who would fall for this scheme would willingly pass over private, and at times even sensitive information and banking information as fraudsters would state it is imperative for social engineering attempts.[1]

The authorities state that fraudsters seized the identities of the victims through the falsification of official documents. The scheme went on even further as it is believed that criminals tricked employees of telephone stores into getting duplicated SIM cards. With this on their hands, fraudsters were able to receive security confirmation messages from banks that allowed them to empty victims' bank accounts. However, criminal activity continued as individuals falsified national identity cards even more.

The scheme firstly caught authorities' attention back in spring 2021. People started to notice and complain that some suspicious and fraudulent bank transfers took place. Overall, 12 bank accounts were frozen due to suspicious transfers and it's unknown whether there are more victims.[2] With this in mind, Spanish police started the investigation, and the criminal trials led police to the fraudsters ring. Criminals were arrested in Barcelona and Seville as they were laundering the defrauded money.

FBI is interested in the recent rise of SIM swapping schemes

Apparently, sim swapping schemes are on the rise globally, and even The Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI is warning people to be cautious. FBI reports that criminals conduct SIM swap schemes using social engineering, insider threat, or phishing techniques. Calls or texts could be redirected to crime actors, and they gain all the necessary information and sensitive data of the victims. Victims then have no idea how their information got leaked and reached the criminals' hands.[3]

FBI shares that in 2021 SIM swapping schemes inflicted $68 million in losses.[4] The potential risk of such attacks is huge as it seems that everyone these days trusts their smart devices way too much. With smartphones being important tools for authenticating online services, the risk of attracting crime actors is always there. With stolen information, criminals now can access bank accounts and reach identification documents or virtual currency accounts. In that way, smartphones and other devices become the main threat holders.

It is important to be cautious and safe

Safety should become the primary goal. First of all, experts recommend creating and putting a PIN or a passcode on personal accounts. It's not much, but it is another layer of protection an attacker needs to evade before they can compromise someone's identity.[5]

However, all passwords should be as different and unique as possible. Two-factor authentication is also strongly advised. With this function, users are provided with a link or one-time passcode via text. It's another step, to make the life of the criminals as hard as possible.

On more serious precautionary matters, everyone should be more careful online and do not share any personal information about their finances and other matters on suspicious sites and forums. Additionally, sensitive bank account information shouldn't be handed over to someone over the phone, text, or email. It is always smart to verify whether your bank is asking for such sensitive information. Overall, it is best to stay alert and cautious as crime actors find more and more ways to fraud unassuming victims.

About the author
Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The mastermind

Ugnius Kiguolis is a professional malware analyst who is also the founder and the owner of 2-Spyware. At the moment, he takes over as Editor-in-chief.

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