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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 14, 2019

Two Massachusetts Men Arrested and Charged with Nationwide Scheme to Steal Social Media Accounts and Cryptocurrency

BOSTON – Two Massachusetts men were arrested today and charged with conducting an extensive scheme to take over victims’ social media accounts and steal their cryptocurrency using techniques such as “SIM swapping,” computer hacking and other methods. 

Eric Meiggs, 21, of Brockton, and Declan Harrington, 20, of Rockport, were indicted on one count of conspiracy, eight counts of wire fraud, one count of computer fraud and abuse and one count of aggravated identity theft. Meiggs and Harrington were arrested today and released on conditions following an initial appearance in federal court in Boston.

Meiggs and Harrington allegedly targeted executives of cryptocurrency companies, and others, who likely had significant amounts of cryptocurrency and those who had high value or “OG” (“Original Gangster”) social media account names.  It is alleged that Meiggs and Harrington conspired to hack into, and take control over, these victims’ online accounts so they could obtain things of value, such as cryptocurrency.  They used an illegal practice known as “SIM-swapping” and other techniques to access, take control of, and in some cases steal cryptocurrency from, the accounts. 

As alleged in the indictment, with “SIM swapping,” cybercriminals convince 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 then access the victim’s account without authorization, or “hack into” the account. 

Meiggs and Harrington allegedly targeted at least 10 identified victims around the country. Members of the conspiracy allegedly stole, or attempted to steal, over $550,000 in cryptocurrency from the victims. Meiggs allegedly took control over two victims’ “OG” accounts with social media companies. 

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling of the District of Massachusetts; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Office; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Harman Burkart, Chief of Lelling’s Cybercrime Unit and Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and are prosecuting the case. 

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations.  The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Component(s): 
Updated November 14, 2019