Two men sentenced in nationwide scheme to steal social media accounts and cryptocurrency


Date: October 19, 2022


BOSTON — Two men were sentenced today in federal court in Boston for their roles a scheme to take over victims' social media accounts and steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.

Eric Meiggs, of Brockton, Mass. was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge George A. O'Toole Jr. to two years and one day in prison and two years of supervised release. Declan Harrington, of Rockport, Mass. was sentenced to two years and seven days in prison and two years of supervised release. In August 2021, Harrington and Meiggs each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, four counts of wire fraud, one count of computer fraud and abuse and one count of aggravated identity theft. Harrington also pleaded guilty to an additional count of wire fraud.

Beginning in November 2017, Harrington, Meiggs and co-conspirators targeted victims who were believed to have had significant amounts of cryptocurrency and those who had high value or "OG" (slang for "Original Gangster") social media account names. Using an illegal practice known as "SIM-swapping," Harrington, Meiggs and others conspired to hack into and take control of these victims' online accounts to obtain things of value, including OG social media account names and cryptocurrency.

"SIM swapping" attacks involve convincing 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. The cybercriminals can then reset the victim's account log-in credentials and use those credentials to access the victim's account without authorization, or "hack into" the account.

To execute the SIM swapping scheme, Harrington purchased or possessed new phones and SIM cards to which the defendants diverted password-reset links or authentication codes they caused to be sent to the victims' phones, thereby giving Meiggs and others access to the victims' social media and email accounts without authorization. Harrington, Meiggs and their co-conspirators then looked through the victims' digital lives to find and take cryptocurrency currency or control of social media account names.

Harrington, Meiggs, and their co-conspirators targeted at least 10 identified victims around the country and stole (or attempted to steal) more than $530,000 in cryptocurrency from these victims. Meiggs also took control of two victims' "OG" accounts with social media companies.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department's Criminal Division; Joleen S. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations in Boston; and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Kosto, Deputy Chief of Rollins' Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit and Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Justice Department's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section prosecuted the case.