Two thieves from Massachusetts targeted cryptocurrencies that amounted to $550,000.

Brockton native Eric Meiggs, 21, and Declan Harrington from Rockport, 20, were charged and arrested by the U.S. District Court in Boston. The two men allegedly employed an array of schemes like "SIM swapping," hacking and other devious tactics to steal cryptocurrencies, according to an indictment released on Thursday.

The indictment pointed out that Meiggs and Harrington targeted executives of cryptocurrency companies and those who were prominent on social media that they suspected possess significant digital assets. The two scammers gained access to their victims' accounts so that they could loot whatever they found that was of value.

As alleged by the indictment, "SIM swapping" or SIM splitting was one of the tactics Meiggs and Harrington used. SIM swapping involves the cybercriminal gleaning personal information about the victim from illicit sources. Then the fraudster uses all the information gathered to purport as the victim to the phone service provider.  

The cell phone carrier (thinking that the criminal is the victim) then reassigns the details of the victim, including incoming phone calls and texts, to the phone controlled by the criminal. With this unprecedented access, the fraudster can break through two-factor authentications, one-time passwords as well as accounts that involve communicating with the victim's mobile number.

Meiggs and Harrington allegedly targeted 10 individuals around the country. The FBI and IRS-CI are currently investigating the case.

Other cases

Michael Terpin, a cryptocurrency investor, was also the victim of SIM swapping back in 2018 -- twice, The Wall Street Journal reported.  In the first instance, the criminals didn't get anything from him.  The second attempt, though, just seven months later, the criminals were successful carrying off $24 million worth of cryptos.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey got victimized this year of the same fraud tactic with his Twitter account posting offensive messages commanded by hackers, proving that even the people with high technological barriers aren't impenetrable through SIM splitting.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey became the victim of a "SIM swap" hack that allowed an attacker to post offensive tweets that appeared to come from him Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey became the victim of a "SIM swap" hack that allowed an attacker to post offensive tweets that appeared to come from him Photo: AFP / Prakash SINGH

"I've been looking at the criminal underground for a long time, and SIM swapping bothers me more than anything I've seen," said Allison Nixon, the director of research at the security firm Flashpoint. 

"It requires no skill, and there is literally nothing the average person can do to stop it," Nixon continued.