Kwamaine Jerell Ford pleaded guilty last week in Federal Court in Atlanta to charges related to his hacking into the accounts of hundreds of prominent professional athletes and rappers. The technique Ford used to hack into the accounts of his victims was simple and effective. He sent emails to his intended victims that appeared to come from Apple Customer Service in which, posing as an Apple customer service representative, he asked for his victims’ usernames, passwords and answers to security questions under the guise that due to security issues they needed to reset their Apple accounts. While many people targeted by the emails recognized that this was a scam, hundreds of people to whom Ford sent these phishing emails responded with their information enabling Ford to log into their accounts, reset the passwords, change the contact email address to one he controlled and change the security questions. Ford was also able to access the credit cards associated with many of the accounts and used their credit cards to fund a lavish lifestyle. Ford pleaded guilty to one count of computer fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. He will be sentenced on June 24th.
While the targeted victims in this particular case were all famous athletes and musicians, the tactic used by Ford has been successfully been used to victimize members of the general public as well. Remember, my motto, trust me, you can’t trust anyone. Many times it is easy to recognize phony emails posing as coming from a particular company with which you do business because the email address sending the email has absolutely nothing to do with the company, other times the email address may appear legitimate, however, it is important to remember that you can never be sure who is actually contacting you by phone, text message or email so, as a general rule you should never give out personal information such as passwords in response to any such communication without absolutely confirming that the communication is legitimate. Anyone who received such an email purporting to be from Apple would have found out if they contacted Apple in response to the email that the email was a scam.
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