Garrett Endicott, the sixth member of a hacking group called “The Community”, has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for the 2019 SIM hijacking case as well as asked to pay a hefty fine of $120,000 (about Rs 90 lakh). By accessing the victims’ cryptocurrency accounts and emails through the hacked SIM, the group stole up to $9 million (about Rs 67 crore). Garrett, the last member of the group to be captured, was sentenced by the US Department of Justice on Tuesday, December 2.
According to a report in The Hill, each victim of this scam lost between $2,000 (about Rs 1.5 lakh) and $5 million (about Rs 3.7 crore). Many of the victims lost their retirement funds.
“The illegal activities of the ‘community’ were thwarted as a result of a complex international cryptocurrency and identity theft investigation. As criminal organizations commonly use web-based schemes to further their illegal activities, this Demonstrates how vulnerable our personal information can be,” James Harris, the special agent in charge, was quoted as saying.
Other members of the community have also been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 42 months to three years, as well as fines of up to $9.5 million (about Rs 71 crore).
According to market research tracker CoinGecko, the crypto market is currently witnessing a global boom, with its total market cap recently touching the $3 trillion mark (approximately Rs 2,22,79,296 crore).
Cybercriminals are targeting crypto holders, investors as well as exchanges to steal more assets. Recently, a cyber research team from Sophos unearthed a bitcoin wallet filled with $1.4 million (approximately Rs.10 crore) tokens that were collected through scams. Scammers were looking for victims through dating apps like Bumble and Tinder.
In October, a major hack attack cost an Ethereum-powered lending protocol called “Cream Finance” $130 million (about Rs 972 crore) in crypto assets.
A recent report revealed that the total crypto crime amounted to around $10.52 billion (about Rs 79,194 crore) in 2020.
The same report also pointed out that scams and fraud are a major problem accounting for 67.8% of total cryptocurrency crime in 2020.
Earlier in November, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stated that cyber scammers are using physical cryptocurrency ATMs and digital QR codes to trick innocent people into completing malicious transactions and defrauding them of assets.