Scammers mixed together a malicious cocktail of social engineering, SIM-swapping, and remote desktop software to empty the bank accounts of at least three victims.
In total, victims lost more than $350,000. They were likely swindled by the same individuals since the modus operandi and some details were the same in all three cases.
Remote access to sensitive info
The scams happened over the summer in Budapest and started with the ruse of a well-located apartment offered for sale below the market value.
Enticed by the offer, the victims showed their interest and responded to the ad, learning that the lower price was because the owner, who was living abroad, needed money urgently.
A “relative” of the owner acted as an intermediary for the transaction, and promised potential victims more pictures of the property than shown in the original online ad, along with a video.
In two cases, the scammer convinced the victims to install AnyDesk remote desktop application to transfer the pictures and videos, Hungarian publication 24 reports.
Since AnyDesk is legitimate software, and the victims downloaded it directly from the developer’s website, there was no reason to suspect foul play.
The fraudster maintained access to the victim computer even after transferring the files and could search for sensitive info (documents, passwords, personal details) that would help them further in their scheme.
The goal was to log into the victim’s bank account and steal available funds; but with two-factor authentication (2FA) turned on, they also needed access to incoming message on the mobile phone.