Stranger Than Fiction: The Shocking Ease of Phone Hijacking and How Companies Can Prevent It


A 21-year-old computer programmer living in Oklahoma going by the alias of ‘Doc' hacks the CEO of a blockchain company and steals $14 million in a matter of minutes.It has everything a studio exec would want: a young charismatic antihero, a sense of place, a current trend. The only problem is, this isn't a movie pitch. It's a true story, it happened last month.Unfortunately, this is not a unique story. Check here, here and here. All ripe for big screen adaptations! In fact, Reuters estimates that between 2011-2017 $18 billion worth of Bitcoin had been stolen from cryptocurrency exchanges. That's a lot of beer money for the hacker in my movie. If these fraudsters can go after a Winklevoss twin, they can certainly come after your users.

Phone Porting Fraud

Phone porting also known as ‘cell phone identity theft' is a somewhat new fraud attack that involves a criminal commandeering a person's phone number through ‘social engineering.' Social engineering is just a fancy way of saying, they trick a mobile provider into giving them access to a user's account. From there they can gain access to bank accounts or  digital wallets and drain funds to ZERO in a matter of seconds, ruining lives in the process.The Federal Trade Commission states that between 2013 and 2016 this type of attack rose 256%. I'm not a big math guy, but that seems like a lot.

End Act One. Begin Act Two.

Like any good movie I can't just present a problem, I have to offer a solution in the story's second act. Here, I introduce you to the protagonist of our film, Porting History.Through the Porting History add-on now available through our PhoneID API, we can recognize that a phone number has been recently ported and enable you to flag that number for a manual review -- thus saving you and your users a lot of time, effort and money.Additionally, if a number has been ported recently you will also receive…

  • The date the number was ported
  • Current and previous carrier name
  • Current and previous MCC (mobile country code)
  • Current and previous MNC (mobile network code)
  • Current and previous phone type


By implementing Porting History you add a level of protection to your users and ensure that your company will not be name-dropped in one of our future blogs about phone number takeover fraud. Furthermore, you will rest easy knowing that you and your users are guarded against these types of attacks by fraudsters that aren't even old enough to rent a car.This time of year, a lot of cash is changing hands and that is a good thing for your business! We here at TeleSign just want to make sure it's all done securely, because that's a happy ending that we can all get behind.Reach out to your TeleSign rep or Contact Us today and ask about Porting History."

Talk To An Expert

Interested in learning about how TeleSign's identity and engagement solutions can prevent fraud while fostering secure and global growth for your business? Let's chat.