The SIM Hijackers

Meet the hackers who flip seized Instagram handles and cryptocurrency in a shady, buzzing underground market for stolen accounts and usernames. Their victims’ weakness? Phone numbers.

It seemed like any other warm September night in the suburbs of Salt Lake City. Rachel Ostlund had just put her kids to bed and was getting ready to go to sleep herself. She was texting with her sister when, unexpectedly, her cell phone lost service. The last message Rachel received was from T-Mobile, her carrier. The SIM card for her phone number, the message read, had been “updated.”

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