Man Steals 620K Photos From iCloud Accounts Via A Phishing Attack

This is an example of why you need to be switched on to keep yourself from being a victim of a phishing attack. Let’s get the details about this particular attack that involves Apple’s iCloud:

A Los Angeles County man broke into thousands of Apple iCloud accounts and collected more than 620,000 private photos and videos in a plot to steal and share images of nude young women, federal authorities say. Hao Kuo Chi, 40, of La Puente, has agreed to plead guilty to four felonies, including conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to a computer, court records show. Chi, who goes by David, admitted that he impersonated Apple customer support staff in emails that tricked unsuspecting victims into providing him with their Apple IDs and passwords, according to court records. He gained unauthorized access to photos and videos of at least 306 victims across the nation, most of them young women, he acknowledged in his plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Tampa, Fla. 

Chi said he hacked into the accounts of about 200 of the victims at the request of people he met online. Using the moniker “icloudripper4you,” Chi marketed himself as capable of breaking into iCloud accounts to steal photos and videos, he admitted in court papers. Chi acknowledged in court papers that he and his unnamed co-conspirators used a foreign encrypted email service to communicate with each other anonymously. When they came across nude photos and videos stored in victims’ iCloud accounts, they called them “wins,” which they collected and shared with one another. “I don’t even know who was involved,” Chi said Thursday in a brief phone conversation. He expressed fear that public exposure of his crimes would “ruin my whole life.” 

The scam started to unravel In March 2018. A California company that specializes in removing celebrity photos from the internet notified an unnamed public figure in Tampa, Fla., that nude photos of the person had been posted on pornographic websites, according to [FBI agent Anthony Bossone]. The victim had stored the nude photos on an iPhone and backed them up to iCloud. Investigators soon discovered that a log-in to the victim’s iCloud account had come from an internet address at Chi’s house in La Puente, Bossone said. The FBI got a search warrant and raided the house May 19. By then, agents had already gathered a clear picture of Chi’s online life from a vast trove of records that they obtained from Dropbox, Google, Apple, Facebook and Charter Communications. On Aug. 5, Chi agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of gaining unauthorized access to a protected computer. He faces up to five years in prison for each of the four crimes.

I hope the authorities not only throw the book at this guy, but I also hope that his ” unnamed co-conspirators” are tracked down and face consequences as well. But at the same time, let me state this unequivocally. Apple Tech Support will never call you out of the blue to troubleshoot an issue. And you can substitute Apple for Google, Microsoft, or any other company. If you get a call like this, hang up. For additional tips in terms of avoiding this along with many other tech related scams, click here.

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