Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Defending Against SIM Swapping Charges

Law enforcement has recently arrested two men and charged them with plotting to steal half a million dollars through the swapping of SIM cards. As a result of the arrest, two men were charged with 11 counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud, computer fraud and abuse, and aggravated identity theft. The men who were arrested allegedly targeted executives of cryptocurrency businesses as well as individuals who held a substantial amount of cryptocurrency and those who had high-value social media account names. 

Both men conspired to hack into and take over the accounts of at least 10 individuals throughout the country. These efforts would have resulted in more than $55,000 in cryptocurrency being stolen. 

What SIM Cards do

Subscriber identity modules (SIM) cards are responsible for storing user data on cellular phones on the Global System for Mobile (GSM) network. Cell phone providers rely on these networks to provide cell phone service to subscribers, which authenticate cellphone subscriptions. 

Without a SIM card, GSM-based phones are not able to connect to the cell phone carrier telecommunications networks. In addition to being essential to access these networks, SIM cards are also able to identify phone users. 

What Constitutes SIM Swapping?

SIM swapping is currently one of the most popular types of theft. The technique allows criminals to convince a victim’s cell phone carrier to reassign a phone number from a SIM card found inside a stolen device to the SIM card inside of a phone controlled by the person committing the offense. 

The perpetrator then poses as the victim with an online account provider and requests the receipt of the account password reset links or authentication codes to the compromised device. As a result, the offender can reset the victim’s login information and hack that person’s account. 

Defenses to SIM Swapping

SIM swapping is a fairly new criminal offense and as a result, can be difficult to track and even more challenging for prosecution to prove. An experienced criminal defense attorney understands how theft offenses occur in the digital world and can help review the facts of your case to create a strong strategy. Some of the most common defenses that we can help you raise in response to these charges include:

  • A user was authorized to use the SIM card and no theft occurred.

  • Entrapment. Entrapment occurs when law enforcement or government agents induce a person to commit an offense that was not contemplated by the individual to bring charges against the individual.

  • Establishing that someone else is responsible for committing the offense.

  • Law enforcement seized evidence of the offense without a warrant or any one of the warrant exceptions applying

  • The statute of limitations for committing the offense has expired

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Regardless of the type of theft offense with which you are charged, one of the best steps that you can take if you face charges is to retain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact attorney Edward Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.