Phone fraud has more and more variants and more complex resources, specialists from a cyber security consulting company report. A few days ago a reporter recounted how he contacted a special SIM card seller, allegedly of Russian origin, used to impersonate any phone number without the target user being able to identify the fraud.
In the report, published by Motherboard, the researcher mentions that he managed to contact an individual who claims to control a website specialized in the sale of these SIM cards from Russia. The individual phoned the investigator using one of these cards, as mentioned above, this chip allowed him to forge any phone number: “It’s very easy to trick a user into pretending to call from a bank or simply to prevent the caller ID from recording the actual phone number,” the seller states.
These tools are known by various names among the cybercriminal community, whether “Russian SIM cards”, “encrypted chips”, “blank SIM card”, among other names, mention specialists of the cyber security consulting company. While the operation is the same, the researcher states that in some variants of the attack criminals also employ real-time voice manipulation methods or addition of background noise (street ambient sound, offices, among others). In addition, these SIM cards can be acquired in conjunction with data exposed in data breach incidents to deploy targeted attacks.
While these blank SIM cards are not illegal on their own, their use is clearly a crime, as the operators of these campaigns impersonate individuals and organizations, and they use information exposed in security incidents for malicious purposes. The National Crime Agency (NCA) recently reported the confiscation of multiple of these Russian SIM cards as evidence in an investigation.
According to specialists from the cyber security consulting company, encrypted phone vendors (whether legitimate firms or black market vendors) also offer these Russian SIM cards, so users of encrypted devices also have the ability to impersonate the phone numbers of any person or organization they want. According to motherboard researcher, these SIM cards work seamlessly in countries such as Colombia, the United Kingdom, Morocco, Mexico, and the United States.
In a video recently posted on YouTube, a seller showed how to forge phone numbers with these SIM cards. The seller wrote a series of digits on a phone, followed by an asterisk and the number to be impersonated. Soon after, a second phone showed the number impersonated.
The world’s most popular SIM card for cybercrime
Although many vendors mistakenly claim that these kinds of tools provide complete protection against government investigations, they are a widely used resource by cybercriminals in multiple parts of the world. On the other hand, Matt Horne, deputy director of investigations at the NCA, mentions: “Multiple organized crime groups try to evade justice through this kind of tools, which has become an extended and certainly useful practice.”
He is a well-known expert in mobile security and malware analysis. He studied Computer Science at NYU and started working as a cyber security analyst in 2003. He is actively working as an anti-malware expert. He also worked for security companies like Kaspersky Lab. His everyday job includes researching about new malware and cyber security incidents. Also he has deep level of knowledge in mobile security and mobile vulnerabilities.