A Georgia man has pleaded guilty to using phishing scams to gain access to dozens of Apple ID accounts belonging to famous athletes and musicians. The Justice Department did not disclose which celebrities where hacked, but confirmed that 27-year-old Kwamaine Jerell Ford was responsible.
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As detailed by The Verge, Ford would send emails to these celebrities pretending to be Apple support representatives seeking log-in details. Once he received the log-in information, Ford would change the emails and passwords on file with the account, preventing the celebrities from getting back in.
Once Ford had secured access, he would spend thousands of dollars “on everything from furniture and money transfers to travel expenses” using stolen credit card information. For Apple’s part, the company said that it noted “hundreds” of unauthorized logins from the victims’ accounts.
All in all, Ford is said to have accessed accounts belonging to “dozens” of NBA and NFL players, as well as famous rappers. The names of affected stars have not been made public.
Ford pled guilty to one count of computer fraud and one count of aggravated identity fraud. He was charged with six counts of wire fraud, computer fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
In a statement, FBI agent Chris Hacker said that this case further shows the importance of staying vigilant in protecting your log-in information:
“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 FBI special agent Chris Hacker. “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.”
This isn’t the first time celebrities have been targeted through their iCloud accounts. At least five people have pled guilty to being involved in the 2014 “Celebgate” incident. As you’ll recall, that incident saw countless intimate celebrity photos being leaked after stars fell victim to phishing attacks targeting their Apple accounts.