Twitter Boss is the Victim of SIM Hack

4th September 2019 Media Law

It was reported in the media over the weekend that the Chief Executive of Twitter Jack Dorsey had his Twitter account hacked by a group calling itself the Chuckling Squad. The US network CNN are reporting that it was the result of so-called SIM swapping.

Mr Dorsey is not alone and is the latest in a list of high profile individuals who have been the victim of the scam. Only last week it was reported that a number of high profile ‘YouTubers’ including Shane Dawson, James Charles, Keem and King Bach were also the victim of similar attacks. We have no way of verifying the precise details of any of the attacks although Keem did seem to suggest in a tweet that his SIM card had been “switched„ which would suggest SIM swap.

What is Sim swap?

SIM swap has many different names including sim swap scam, sim swap fraud, phone hijacking, sim-jacking and sim splitting. Whatever you call it, it amounts to the same thing and can cause huge distress to the victims.

In summary, a fraudster is able to obtain a sim card from a mobile phone company using personal data obtained from third party sources eg the dark web or social media. The mobile phone companies are then tricked into swapping the existing SIM card that the customer has in the mobile phone to the ‘new’ SIM card that the fraudster is in possession of.

The victim will be unaware this is happening until the phone abruptly stops working. Worryingly, this is too late because after the swap, the fraudsters have full functionality of the mobile phone to use social media accounts, access bank accounts, change security settings of accounts or anything else that full functionality of a mobile phone would grant. While the fraudster has the functionality of the phone they can even intercept text messages containing security authentication codes.

A recent Freedom of Information Request to the City of London Police has shown that in 2017 there were 237 reports mentioning SIM swap which rose to 252 in 2018. When the other 42 forces in England and Wales are factored in, the figures are likely to be much higher.

If you have been the victim of SIM swap, JMW Solicitors may be able to help. See our SIM swap page for further details here.

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Dominic Walker is a Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Media Law department

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