I am running this just as an FYI and out of a bit of fascination. I see news releases all the time of crimes that I can't believe are happening here in Iowa and crimes that don't originate here but affect those living here. 

This crime consists of the theft of online currency or "cryptocurrency" something else I know nothing about, I have enough trouble handling the old kind of currency. 

So for those tech savvy readers or the curious minded like I am, here's a story about a group called, "The Community."

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Nine Individuals Connected to a Hacking Group Charged
With Online Identity Theft and Other Related Charges

Six individuals connected to a hacking group known to its members as “The
Community” were charged in a fifteen count indictment unsealed today with conspiracy
to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, announced United States
Attorney Matthew Schneider.

In addition, a criminal complaint was unsealed charging
three former employees of mobile phone providers with wire fraud in relation to the
conspiracy.

Schneider was joined in the announcement by Acting Special Agent in Charge
Angie Salazar of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland
Security Investigations (HSI) Detroit.

Charged in the indictment were:

Conor Freeman, 20, of Dublin, Ireland

Ricky Handschumacher, 25 of Pasco County, Florida

Colton Jurisic, 20 of, Dubuque, Iowa

Reyad Gafar Abbas, 19, of Rochester, New York

Garrett Endicott, 21, of Warrensburg, Missouri

Ryan Stevenson, 26, of West Haven, Connecticut

Charged in the criminal complaint were:

Jarratt White, 22 of Tucson, Arizona

Robert Jack, 22 of Tucson, Arizona

Fendley Joseph, 28, of Murrietta, California

According to the indictment, the defendants are members of “The Community”
and are alleged to have participated in thefts of victims’ identities in order to steal
cryptocurrency via a method known as “SIM Hijacking”.

Cryptocurrencies, also known
as virtual currencies or digital currencies, are online media of exchange. The most
famous of these is Bitcoin. Like traditional currency, they act as a store of value and
can be exchanged for goods and services. They can also be exchanged for dollars.
“SIM Hijacking” or “SIM Swapping” is an identity theft technique that exploits a
common cyber-security weakness – mobile phone numbers.

This tactic enabled “The
Community” to gain control of victims’ mobile phone number, resulting in the victims’
phone calls and short message service (“SMS”) messages being routed to devices
controlled by “The Community”. “SIM Hijacking” was often facilitated by bribing an
employee of a mobile phone provider.

Other times, SIM Hijacking was accomplished by
a member of “The Community” contacting a mobile phone provider’s customer
service—posing as the victim—and requesting that the victim’s phone number be
swapped to a SIM card (and thus a mobile device) controlled by “The Community”.
The indictment alleges that, once “The Community” had control of a victim’s
phone number, the phone number was leveraged as a gateway to gain control of online
accounts such as a victim’s email, cloud storage, and cryptocurrency exchange
accounts.

For example, “The Community” would use their control of victims’ phone
numbers to reset passwords on online accounts and/or request two-factor
authentication (2FA) codes that allowed them to bypass security measures.

The members of “The Community” charged in the indictment endeavored to gain
control of victims’ cryptocurrency wallets or online cryptocurrency exchange accounts
and steal victims’ funds. It is alleged in the indictment that the defendants executed
seven attacks that resulted in the theft of cryptocurrency valued at approximately
$2,416,352.

According to the criminal complaint, defendants White, Jack and Joseph were
employees of mobile phone service providers and helped members of “The Community”
steal the identities of subscribers to their employers’ services in exchange for bribes.

“Mobile phones today are not only a means of communication but also a means
of identification,” stated United States Attorney Matthew Schneider. “This case should
serve as a reminder to all of us to protect our personal and financial information from
those who seek to steal it.”

“The allegations against these defendants are the result of a complex
cryptocurrency and identity theft investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations,
which spanned two continents,” said Salazar. “Increasingly, criminal groups are turning
exclusively to web-based schemes to further their illicit activities, which is why HSI has
developed capabilities to meet these threats head on.”

If convicted on the charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, each defendant
faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The charges of wire fraud
each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A conviction of
aggravated identity theft in support of wire fraud carries a statutory maximum penalty of
2 years in prison to be served consecutively to any sentence imposed on the underlying
count of wire fraud.

The defendants in this case are presumed innocent. Indictments and criminal
complaints are merely charges and it is the government’s burden to prove guilty beyond
a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by special agents of Immigration and Customs
Enforcement with the assistance of Irish law enforcement authorities.

The case is being
prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy Wyse, assisted by Assistant
United States Attorney Shankar Ramamurthy and attorneys from the DOJ Office of
International Affairs. Special thanks are due to Assistant United States Attorneys and
federal agents across the country that provided assistance with arrests and searches
conducted on May 9, 2019. 



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Comments (1)

I find it alarming that one of the defendants is from Dubuque.
By: Brian Larkin on May 10th 6:10pm

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