Europol, the European police agency, said it had assisted in the arrest of 10 hackers suspected of stealing $100 million in cryptocurrency in "SIM-swapping" attacks that allowed suspects to gain access to their victims' phones.
"The attacks orchestrated by this criminal gang targeted thousands of victims throughout 2020, including famous internet influencers, sports stars, musicians, and their families," the agency said in a statement.
After an investigation with Britain, the United States, Belgium, Malta, and Canada, Europol said the arrests were made.
In a SIM-swapping attack, criminals can gain control over a SIM - the small computer chip that carries a phone number used to identify a customer on a telecommunication network. Usually, a phone company is tricked into deactivating a working SIM and transferring its functions to one controlled by the hackers.
"This enabled (hackers) to steal money, cryptocurrencies, and personal information, including contacts synced with online accounts," Europol said in a press statement detailing the operation.
"They also hijacked social media accounts to post content and send messages masquerading as the victim."