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Cleveland FBI warns SIM card swap cases on the rise

Posted at 5:51 PM, Apr 26, 2022

CLEVELAND — The FBI is issuing a warning about a troubling type of cyber-crime. It’s called Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) swapping.

From January 2018 to December 2020, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 320 complaints related to SIM swapping incidents with about $12 million in losses. In 2021, IC3 received 1,611 SIM swapping complaints with losses adding up to more than $68 million.

Cyber criminals target mobile carriers to get access to victim’s bank accounts and other personal information. According to the FBI, cyber thieves use social engineering or phishing techniques to carry out the SIM swap schemes.

“They never physically get the sim card but digitally take control of it,” said Tony Pietrocola, who had his SIM card swapped.

But in Pietrocola’s case, the cyber thieves left empty handed because of procedures he had put in place.

“Luckily, I had two factor authentication, multi-factor authentication and they were not able to get in,” explained Pietrocola.

“If you have a phone you could be a victim,” said Eric Smith, special agent in charge Cleveland FBI.

If you are a victim, Smith said there are some steps to take right away.

Call your cell phone provider, call your bank and credit cards, check your accounts, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or call the FBI.

“If you do it timely enough there’s an opportunity for us to stop funds before they move out of state or out of the country,” said Smith.

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