Next time your iPhone goes missing, think twice about clicking any suspicious links from strangers.
It’s bad enough having your iPhone stolen out of the blue, but it’s magnitudes worse when the thieves try to extract your personal information from it. According to Krebs on Security, that is what happened to an unfortunate Brazilian woman who was robbed by a gang of street muggers.
After losing her iPhone, the woman’s husband used Apple’s Find my iPhone feature to pinpoint the device’s location and sent text messages to the thieves. Soon, he received a reply telling him that the iPhone had been found by the authorities and that he needed to click on a link to retrieve it.
The link — and the text — were bogus. It led to a careful replica of Apple’s and Find my iPhone’s log-in pages hosted on a third-party website. The husband didn’t fall for the ruse but the scammers were persistent. Two days later, he received an automated call from a Siri-like voice assistant instructing him to await text messages for information regarding the stolen iPhone.
“To me, it really got to another level, connecting the lowest kind of criminals to a high profile one that can buy this kind of scam,” he told Krebs on Security. “That’s when I thought I had to tell this story to someone.”
It’s not a new tactic. In 2015, Symantec reported that cybercriminals had created multiple phishing websites to trick iOS devices owners into providing login credentials for their iCloud accounts. The aim was to acquire the victim’s iCloud credentials to turn off the stolen phone’s Lost Mode, a security feature which makes the phone unusable.
Smartphones go missing all the time — not just in Brazil. That’s why it’s worth turning on the Find My iPhone feature, which makes it easy to locate a lost or stolen phone via Apple’s iCloud dashboard. More often than not, a phone can be put in “Lost mode” or remotely erased.
Apple, too, provides a few helpful hints about what to do when your smartphone’s gone missing.