On Wednesday, a Georgia man pleaded guilty to hacking the Apple accounts of professional athletes and musicians.
Beginning in at least March 2015, 27-year-old Kwamaine Jerell Ford made accounts meant to mimic Apple customer service. He sent emails targeting college and professional athletes — including NBA and NFL players — and rappers. Authorities have not released the names of those impacted.
Ford took accounts over by attempting to reset the password, changing the contact email, and changing the security questions. Apple reported that they received “hundreds” of unauthorized logins from the victims’ accounts.
On some accounts, Ford found credit card information, which he used to pay for “thousands of dollars in air travel, hotel stays, other travel expenses, furniture, and money transfers”.
“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,” FBI agent Chris Hacker said. “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 tricked by phishing schemes, but it’s a reminder to everybody to practice better data security. Your Apple accounts, especially, can be a gateway into all types of information. The last thing you want is for someone to get ahold of your credit card and drop thousands of dollars flights and hotels.
Ford was indicted on six counts each of wire fraud, computer fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity fraud in April 2017. He only pleaded guilty to one count of computer fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Sentencing is scheduled for later this summer.