Rockport Man, Declan Harrington Guilty of SIM Swapping Attacks,
A Rockport man pleaded guilty today to conducting a scheme to
take over victims’ social media accounts and steal hundreds of
thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.
Declan Harrington, 21, pleaded guilty to one count of
conspiracy, five counts of wire fraud, one count of computer
fraud and abuse and one count of aggravated identity theft. A
sentencing date has not yet been scheduled by the Court.
Harrington was charged along with co-conspirator, Eric Meiggs,
in November 2019.
Harrington, Meiggs, and co-conspirators targeted victims who
were believed to have had significant amounts of cryptocurrency
and those who had high value or “OG” (slang for “Original
Gangster”) social media account names. Using an illegal practice
known as “SIM-swapping,” Harrington, Meiggs, and others
conspired to hack into and take control of these victims’ online
accounts to obtain things of value, including OG social media
account names and cryptocurrency.
“SIM swapping” attacks involve convincing a victim’s cell phone
carrier to reassign the victim’s cell phone number from the SIM
card inside the victim’s cell phone to the SIM card inside a
cell phone controlled by the cybercriminals. Cybercriminals then
pose as the victim with an online account provider and request
that the provider send account password-reset links or an
authentication code to the SIM-swapped device now controlled by
the cybercriminals. The cybercriminals can then reset the
victim’s account log-in credentials and use those credentials to
access the victim’s account without authorization, or “hack
into” the account.
Harrington, Meiggs, and their co-conspirators targeted at least
10 identified victims around the country and stole (or attempted
to steal) more than $530,000 in cryptocurrency from these
victims. Meiggs also took control of two victims’ “OG” accounts
with social media companies.
Meiggs pleaded guilty on April 28, 2021 and is scheduled to be
sentenced on May 24, 2022.
charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to five years
in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to
$$250,000. The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of
up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and
a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of computer fraud and abuse
provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three
years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The
charge of aggravated identify theft provides for a mandatory
sentence of two years in prison to be served consecutive to any
other sentence imposed, up to one year of supervised release,
and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal
district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines
and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Assistant
Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice
Department’s Criminal Division; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special
Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston
Division; and Ramsey E. Covington, Acting Special Agent in
Charge of Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in
Boston made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Kosto,
Deputy Chief of Mendell’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud
Unit and Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Justice
Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section
and are prosecuting the case.