San Francisco resident Robert Ross first realised something odd was going on when his iPhone lost its signal on 26th October.
But his cellphone signal wasn’t all that Ross had lost. Within minutes he had also lost his entire $1 million life savings, including the money he had stashed away for his two daughters’ college education.
According to media reports, prosecutors believe 21-year-old Manhattan resident Nicholas Truglia targeted the cellphones of Ross and a number of others in “SIM-swapping” attacks.
SIM swap attacks (also sometimes called Port Out scams) are where fraudsters manage to trick the customers service staff of cellphone operators into giving them control of someone else’s phone number.
This is sometimes done by a fraudster reciting personal information about their target to the cellphone company to convince them of their identity.
When an online account subsequently sends its authentication token to the user’s phone number via SMS it ends up in the hands of the criminal.