Mobile Phone Sim Swap Scams
Sim swap scams occur when a criminal is able to convince a mobile operator to issue them with a replacement Sim card, by claiming a false identity and pretending that their mobile phone has been either lost or stolen.
Criminals are able to do this using people’s personal details that have been stolen using malware or cyber-attacks. Many of these details are then sold on the dark web.
The victim’s Sim card stops working and the criminal can then access any online service that requires security codes to be sent to a user’s mobile phone.
Security researchers have long believed that UK crime gangs are behind these scams, as the fraudsters manage to trick banks by logging onto mobile banking systems from locations close to the victim’s home address.
In the past, this scam has been perpetrated by fraudsters calling the customer service call centres of mobile operators, as well as by hackers using fake mobile base station equipment bought from the black market.
While the scam has been in existence for at least four years – BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme demonstrated that they could attack bank accounts in 2016 – the number of cases of Sim swap fraud have rocketed by 60% since 2016.