Everyone needs to watch out for hackers phishing for their account details, and that includes celebrities. A Georgia man tricked pro athletes and rappers into giving up login details for their Apple accounts, which he used to access to their credit cards, according to the FBI.
Kwamaine Jerell Ford allegedly didn’t use high-tech tricks to hack into Apple servers. No, he just sent thousands of emails from fake Apple customer service accounts to rappers as well as college and professional athletes, including NBA and NFL players, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice.
“Ford tricked his victims into providing their Apple account passwords and stole sensitive, personal information from the accounts,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak. “After stealing credit card numbers belonging to several professional athletes, he brazenly spent thousands of dollars on personal expenses charged to the athletes’ accounts.”
The scheme employed here is called phishing, and it’s widely used in identity theft. Emails pretending to come from customer service reps or other trusted sources are sent to prospective victims asking for user names and passwords. A small percentage of people fall for this trick, giving the criminals access to their accounts.
The phisherman in this case was indicted on six counts each of wire fraud, computer fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Ford pleaded guilty to one count of computer fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Sentencing is scheduled for this summer.
Phishing can happen to you
“The high profile victims in this case are an example that no matter who you are, hackers like Ford are trying to get your personal information,” said Chris Hacker Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This case demonstrates the need to be careful in protecting personal information and passwords, especially in response to suspicious e-mails. Hopefully this is a lesson for everyone, not just the victims in this case.”
Apple never emails or calls anyone asking for their account password. Never.