FBI say crypto thieves used Call of Duty to co-ordinate theft of over $3 million

Calum Patterson. Last updated: Oct 30, 2018

A group of criminals have been busted by the FBI, after reportedly stealing $3.3 million in various cryptocurrencies, using Call of Duty to co-ordinate their efforts.

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According to the Chicago-Sun Times, the ring of cybercriminals used a computer and mobile phone hacking scheme to access victims various types of cryptocurrency accounts.

A man from Bloomington, Illinois, who was part of the criminal group, claims he met and was intimidated by the hackers while playing Call of Duty, and they forced him to participate under the threat of SWATting.

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According to the report, the criminals would communicate over Call of Duty to co-ordinate their efforts, stealing millions in the process.

The Bloomington man says the hackers would give him names, phone numbers and other necessary info to grant him access to mobile phones of victims. He hacked over 100 phones, according to the FBI affidavit.

He claims that if he refused, they would threaten to SWAT his home – meaning sending a false alarm to authorities in the hope of causing enough concern that a SWAT team raids the address.

However, a real raid did take place, as the FBI searched a suspect’s home in Dolton, Illinois, taking computers and cell phones, according to the court records obtained by the Chicago-Sun Times.

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In December 2016, US company ‘Auger’ – a platform for betting using cryptocurrency – reported to the FBI that its employees and investors were being targeted by hackers for their crypto funds.

Cryptocurrencies called Reputation or Ethereum Tokens, used by the Auger platform, were stolen by the hackers, in total estimated to be worth $3.3 million, over $800,000 of which was in Reputation Tokens alone.

The FBI affidavit also includes transcripts of messages sent between the group. One exchange from January 2017 between the Bloomington man and another suspect shows them discussing a successful Auger account hack, with the other suspect writing “LOL, hack the world”.

However, the Bloomington man, who met the hackers through CoD and was threatened with SWATting, told the Chicago-Sun Times he considers himself a victim. 

“I have done nothing but cooperate with Augur and the FBI,” he said, “I have never once profited from anyone [by] crypto-hacking, ever.”

He also disputed the claim that he had helped hack more than 100 victims’ phones, contesting that this figure was an exaggeration.