The Cybercrime Department of the Turkish National Police has arrested 11 suspects in an alleged hack of crypto accounts, with victims reporting more than $80,000 in losses, major Turkish newspaper Hürriyet reported Friday, Nov. 2.
According to the article, 14 individuals have reported to local prosecution authorities that their crypto wallets were hacked with their Bitcoin (BTC) transferred to other wallets. Following the complaints, the Istanbul police launched an investigation against a group of hackers that had allegedly compromised users’ emails, crypto wallets’ accounts data, and passwords.
On Oct. 26, cybercrime unit agents detained 11 people in multiple locations in Istanbul as a result of joint raids with special operations department Harekat police. Ten suspects were taken into custody, with one of them reportedly released on the condition of then remaining under further “judicial control.” Police have also seized from the alleged hackers two fake identity cards, as well as a number of devices allegedly used in the hacks such as 18 mobile phones and SIM cards, 22 memory sticks, and other items.
According to Turkish prosecutors, the amount of stolen Bitcoin is worth around 437,000 Turkish lira, or more than $80,000. The group of attackers allegedly moved the stolen crypto to multiple accounts in an attempt to cover their tracks before subsequently selling it for fiat.
During the investigation, the cybercrime unit identified some suspects by tracking new SIM card numbers registered to crypto exchange accounts by the hackers. Police agents also tracked the suspects who tried to withdraw the stolen assets from ATMs and banks based on records by multiple security cameras. The article says that the investigation is ongoing, with policemen looking for more victims of the hackers.
In August this year, the Turkish lira’s collapse, triggering more interest by the Turkish people in buying decentralized cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC). The lira dropped by 50 percent against the U.S. dollar by August 2018, seeing the all-time lows due to geopolitical factors.
On Aug. 22, police in California detained an alleged hacker who stole Bitcoin worth more than $1 million by hijacking cellphones. The attacker, Xzavyer Narvaez, reportedly used the “SIM swapping” method, also known as a “port out scam,” to steal crypto from victims’ devices.
In October, Vice Media-backed U.S. tech news agency Motherboard reported that Oklahoma City authorities arrested a man allegedly considered to be one of the “most infamous” SIM swappers, who had reportedly stolen cellphone numbers and used them in cryptocurrency thefts. The hacker Joseph Harris, 21, is accused of stealing $14 million in crypto from blockchain startup Crowd Machine.