Fla. Man Charged in SIM-Swapping Spree is Key Suspect in Hacker Groups Oktapus, Scattered Spider – Krebs on Security

By neub9
3 Min Read

On Jan. 9, 2024, U.S. authorities arrested a 19-year-old Florida man charged with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiring with others to use SIM-swapping to steal cryptocurrency. According to sources close to the investigation, the accused was a key member of a criminal hacking group involved in a string of cyber intrusions at major U.S. technology companies during the summer of 2022.

Prosecutors say Noah Michael Urban of Palm Coast, Fla., stole at least $800,000 from at least five victims between August 2022 and March 2023. Each attack involved unauthorized SIM-swapping, where attackers transferred each victim’s mobile phone number to a new device that they controlled. The government says Urban went by the aliases “Sosa” and “King Bob,” among others.

He was a core member of a hacking group behind the 2022 breach at Twilio, a company that provides services for making and receiving text messages and phone calls. The security firm Group-IB published a report linking the attackers behind the Twilio intrusion to separate breaches at more than 130 organizations.

The gang, also known as 0ktapus, exploited various tactics to phish for employees’ credentials, including phishing sites that mimicked their employer’s authentication pages and text messages that urged employees to click on malicious links. 0ktapus often leveraged information or access gained in one breach to perpetrate another.

Apart from his involvement in cyber intrusions, Urban was heavily involved in trading stolen, unreleased music recordings from popular artists. He was known for acquiring, sharing, and, at times, selling unreleased music files, particularly of popular artists such as Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, Juice Wrld, and others.

Urban’s involvement in criminal activities, including SIM-swapping and cyber intrusions, was well-known in underground communities. In September 2022, a teenager who worked for a SIM-swapping crew was abducted and held for ransom. He was a holder for a particularly active SIM-swapping individual known as “Elijah,” another nickname attributed to Urban. Shortly after the abduction, it was revealed that the teenager was fully cooperating with the FBI, leading to speculation about the violent repercussions faced by individuals involved in these activities.

The arrest of Urban and his connections to major cyber intrusions and SIM-swapping activities highlights the significant impact and risks associated with fraudulent activities in the digital landscape.

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