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In a scam that is as calculated as it is horrific, a Los Angeles man has confessed to stealing over 620,000 images from iCloud Photo Libraries in an attempt to secure – and dispense – nude photos.
Hao Kuo Chi, 40, posed as a member of Apple’s customer services in emails sent to victims, the LA Times reports. He was able to trick some 306 people in the US – most of whom were young women – into handing over their iCloud credentials. Chi then combed through their iCloud Photo Libraries looking for nude pictures.
This type of social hacking is called “phishing” and it’s worth being wary of it.
Chi even advertised his services online under the moniker “icloudripper4you,” where he marketed himself as an iCloud hacker capable of breaking into accounts and stealing images on behalf of others. He used an encrypted email service to communicate with co-conspirators anonymously, describing nude images as “wins” that were shared amongst the group.
Over time, the FBI gained a clear picture of Chi’s operations using records obtained from Dropbox, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Charter Communications. They issued a search warrant and raided Chi’s La Puente residence on May 19, bringing his sickening operation to an end. Chi now faces up to five years in prison for his crimes.
While phishing scams are rife, don’t forget that to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Our phishing guides – one for calls and the other for emails – should help. Plus, our overview piece is also a must-read for anyone looking to avoid scams and bolster iOS or iPadOS security.