What is a SIM Swap Attack and How to Avoid the Popular Scam

by BSC News

September 12, 2023


SIM Swap attacks are a growing concern in the industry, but taking proper steps can protect you from becoming a victim.


  • SIM Swap attacks are fraudulent activities where hackers trick mobile carriers into switching your phone number to a new SIM card they control, thus bypassing two-factor authentication for various accounts.
  • A high-profile victim is Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, who lost over $691,000. 
  • To help in protecting yourself, one should be cautious about sharing personal info online, avoid suspicious links, use strong passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and promptly report any suspicious activity to your carrier and banks.

SIM Swap attacks are the new trick in the hacker playbook - a form of fraud that has even duped high-profile figures like Ethereum founder, Vitalik Buterin. 

Just recently, BSC News reported that Buterin became a victim of this deceptive tactic. Buterin's X account was compromised on September 9, and victims reportedly lost over $691,000.

In another case, Ahmad Wagaafe Hared, a teenager from Arizona, used this same method to exploit people in North California. Local reports say that the Arizona resident Ahmad and his two partners targeted the phone numbers of influential people in the cryptocurrency sector to empty their crypto wallets. The U.S. government ordered Ahmad to give up approximately $3.1 million in Bitcoin and a sports car, according to BeinCrypto.

What is a SIM Swap Attack?

A SIM Swap attack takes advantage of a loophole in the two-factor authentication and two-step verification process, specifically when the second step involves a text message or a call to your mobile phone. 

The attacker gathers your personal details like name, address, birth date, and account number. They might even send fake emails or texts that look like they're from your bank to trick you into revealing more information.

After collecting this data, the scammer contacts your mobile service provider, pretending to be you. They might say they've lost their phone or need a new SIM card. The service provider then transfers your phone number to a new SIM card that the scammer owns.

Once they have your number, the fraudster can access your two-factor authentication accounts. This can include bank accounts, email, and social media, allowing them to steal money, make unauthorized purchases, or even post fraudulent content.

How to Protect Yourself 

  • Protection starts with being cautious about the personal information you share online. 
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links in emails or texts, especially if you didn't expect to receive them. 
  • Use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. 
  • Always keep your mobile phone with you and report any strange activity to your mobile carrier and banks immediately.

What to Do if You're a Victim

If you suspect that you've fallen prey to a SIM Swap attack, act fast. First, notify your mobile carrier about the SIM card theft. Then, consider changing the passwords for all your accounts, including your banking, email, and social media. You may wish to file a police report and monitor your accounts closely for any unauthorized activities.

SIM Swap attacks are a growing concern, but taking the right steps can protect you from becoming a victim. By understanding the risks and safeguarding your information, you can minimize the chances of falling into the bad actors’ traps.

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