Phillipine’s Mugging Scam

A couple of nights ago I received an email asking me to verify an expansion of my apple icloud account. It was the middle of the night, and normally I am aware enough to know Apple doesn’t do this through email. So I typed in my password and hit return and fell asleep. It looked like this.

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 9.35.28 AM

Yesterday my wife and I flew to Edmonton to visit family for thanksgiving. As we taxied into the terminal on landing, I switched my phone on and received half a dozen messages from family and friends that my email account had been hacked. This is what people received from my email with my name in the body and signing at the end:

“I hope this email finds you well!

I could not inform everyone about our family trip to Manila Philippines The Vacation was successful, but our journey has turned sour we were mugged last night at gun point and all valuables were stolen, (cash, bank cards and mobile phone, it was a brutal experience we went to shop before leaving to the airport since our return flight soon, quite honestly it was beyond a dreadful experience for us but looking on the bright side we weren’t seriously hurt or injured, we are still alive so that is what’s important and luckily we had my passport in my hotel room to get us home.

I need your help financially to get back home, I need to settle some outstanding hotel bills and also take a cab to the airport. I am really sorry i am asking this of you, believe me I don’t want to ask I would rather take care of it my self but I cant, I have contacted my bank, but the best they can do is to mail a new card which will take 7 to 10 days to get here. All I need right now is $1950 , If you can help that would be great and I promise to make the refund once I get back home.

Please let me know if you can help me


Jan Randall”

Horrified, I tried to change my Apple account passwords, but Apple blocked me from doing this because it’s software had detected suspicious behavior. As the replies continued, I realized the hackers were using my address book to send these messages out. I cancelled my afternoon rehearsal and headed to an Apple genius bar at a nearby mall where they gave me immediate attention to the problem. This was a relief because when I tried calling Apple on the way to the store, I was put through a series of questions by their automated phone system that was advertising a free Caribean cruise. My feeling at the time was that the same people running the cruise giveaway had hacked into Apple’s phone system, a theory that may well be true.

To reset your password, the Apple technician needed to email a link to me. Since the reason I was there in the first place was that Apple had blocked my email, it was an idiotic question. Worse, the only solution was to get Apple to send me a password reset using a non-apple email account. I’m still waiting for the Gmail message to let me do this. Meanwhile I cancelled my credit card and ordered a new one. As soon as I get my apple mail back online, I will write to everybody explaining what had happened with a full Mea Culpa.


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