Police have arrested eight men in an investigation into a gang that stole more than $100 million in cryptocurrency from US celebrities

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Police have arrested eight men in an investigation into a gang that stole more than $100 million in cryptocurrency from US celebrities
The money had been stolen from bitcoin wallets.NurPhoto/Getty Images
  • Eight men were arrested as part of a probe into a gang that stole $100 million in cryptocurrency.
  • Police did not name the celebrities but said they included influencers, musicians, and sports stars.
  • The hackers used a technique called "SIM-swapping" to gain access to victims' accounts.

Police in the UK arrested eight men on Tuesday as part of an international investigation into a gang that's been hacking celebrities and stealing their cryptocurrency.

The UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) and Europol released statements saying the gang used a technique called SIM-swapping to hack various celebrities over the course of 2020.

The NCA did not reveal the names of the celebrities, but said the victims included "well-known influencers, sports stars, musicians, and their families."

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The hackers are believed to have stolen more than $100 million in cryptocurrencies, Europol said, as well as stealing regular cash out of celebrities' bank accounts. Paul Creffield, head of operations for the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit, said money had been specifically been stolen out of bitcoin wallets.

The NCA added the hackers sometimes posed as the victims by gaining access to their social media accounts.

SIM-swapping is a relatively simple technique that means the hacker convinces the victim's cell phone carrier to transfer their number to a new phone controlled by the hacker. The hacker then typically changes the victim's passwords by getting reset codes sent via SMS. The same technique was used in 2019 to hack Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's account.

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The men arrested in the UK were all aged between 18 and 26, the NCA said. These arrests followed two others earlier this year in Malta and Belgium. Creffield said the hackers could face extradition to the US, as well as computer misuse, fraud, and money laundering charges in the UK.

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