Criminals in Brazil were stealing iPhone handsets not to resell them but to access people’s bank account details and then steal their money, according to a report published last month. These criminals were no ordinary elements. They could steal money from people’s accounts within hours of robbing them of their iPhone devices. Such cases had witnessed a significant rise especially after the beginning of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Now, another news report, originally published in Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, says that the police have understood how these thieves were able to gain access to people’s bank details through their Apple devices.
The Sao Paulo police have arrested one such gang that pulled off these smartphone-related robberies, and a member even admitted that he could “unlock all iPhone handsets, from 5 to 11”. Fabiano Barbeiro, the Sao Paulo Police Chief, says that these thieves needed only one tool to steal money, and that was the iPhone’s SIM card.
How they did it?
A report by 9to5Mac explained the modus operandi of these criminals. It said the thieves would take the SIM card from a stolen iPhone and insert it into another phone. They would then access the social media accounts of the owner, such as Facebook and Instagram, to find out the email ID used. In most of the cases, as has been observed, the same email would have been used for Apple IDs as well. Finally, they would reset the Apple ID password using the victim’s phone number.
Everything became easier after this. Barbeiro says that all the criminals had to do now was to find passwords by looking at the Notes app since many users seem to store bank and credit card passwords there. That apart, once the criminals had access to the iCloud account, they could get all the passwords from the iCloud Keychain as well.
A 22-year-old suspect, who is a computer technician, told the police that he knew at least three other people who instructed criminals interested in getting passwords from stolen smartphones. The police, until now, have arrested 12 people and identified 28 others in connection with the smartphone thefts.
After the publication of the previous report, Apple had reportedly promised Folha de S.Paulo that they would make it easier for users to delete all data from a stolen iPhone. With iOS 15, users will finally be able to track a powered-off iPhone using the Find My App.