Member of group connected to multi-million-dollar cryptocurrency theft sentenced

Date: 2021-11-30T20:37:22+00:00

Location: therecord.media

A member of an international group of cybercriminals who called themselves “The Community” and hijacked people’s cell service to steal millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency was sentenced Monday, according to the Department of Justice

Garrett Endicott, a 22-year-old from Missouri, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to ten months in prison. He was also ordered to pay $121,549.37 in restitution. 

“The Community” used various methods, including bribing telecom employees and pretending to be users when calling into customer service lines, to take over victims’ mobile phone numbers—a kind of attack known as SIM hijacking of swapping—then leveraged that access to break into other accounts and bypass two-factor identification requirements to steal cryptocurrency, per the DOJ: 

Individual victims lost cryptocurrency valued, at the time of theft, ranging from under $2,000 to over $5 million. The sentenced defendants were involved in total thefts ranging from approximately $50,000 to over $9 million.

DOJ announced charges against Endicott and eight others in connection with the scheme in 2019 after an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations section and Irish law enforcement. Three of the individuals were former employees of telecom providers and six were alleged members of “The Community.”

Endicott is the last of the group members from the case, including four other people in the U.S. and one in Ireland, to be sentenced. 

Andrea (they/them) is senior policy correspondent at The Record and a longtime cybersecurity journalist who cut their teeth covering technology policy ThinkProgress (RIP), then The Washington Post from 2013 through 2016, before doing deep dive public records investigations at the Project on Government Oversight and American Oversight. Their work has also been published at Slate, Politico, The Daily Beast, Ars Technica, Protocol, and other outlets. Peterson also produces independent creative projects under their Plain Great Productions brand and can generally be found online as kansasalps.