Phishing scam dupes hundreds of MobileMe users

Security firm finds hacker stash, traces victims to MobileMe billing ruse

A recent phishing scam targeting users of Apple's .Mac and MobileMe online services has successfully duped hundreds into divulging credit card and other personal information, a security company said Thursday.

According to Dan Clements, the president of CardCops, the identity protection division of California-based Affinion Group Inc., the phishing campaign scammed between 100 and 200 people with mac.com addresses in just one day.

CardCops, which uses automated bots and human investigators to scour the Internet's underbelly -- the chat rooms, sites and message forums frequented by cyber criminals -- uncovered a stash of records on a server that hackers use to house stolen information.

"We found 20 different files parked on the server," said Clements, "each file with two or three or four, up to 20, profiles." Computerworld, which was allowed to view the profiles, verified that the records, or "full profiles" as Clement dubbed them, included full names, mailing addresses, credit card numbers, card security numbers, birthdates, mother's maiden names, and e-mail addresses and passwords.

"Cumulatively, there were about 300 profiles collected in that one day," Clements said. "And 100 to 200 were mac.com addresses."

After some additional investigation -- which included calling many of the victims to verify that they'd fallen for the ploy -- CardCops pieced together the crime. "We realized that it was a phishing attack, of course, but also that these phishers timed it with an Apple event."

Clements referred to the recent migration Apple conducted for subscribers of its older .Mac online service to MobileMe, the successor that launched just over a month ago. "It looks like that raised the conversion rate of their captures," he added, explaining the phishers' success rate in tricking people into giving up credit card and other confidential information.

Earlier this week, Macworld reported a phishing attack using messages masquerading as Apple's to ask MobileMe users to re-enter their credit card information because of a billing problem.

The message was convincing. "Some of the users who we talked to were very sophisticated users. But they still fell for this attack," said Clements.

Researchers at Trend Micro agreed that the attack was slick. In a blog post Tuesday, Trend's Jovi Umawing said the message "looks clean and sleek, the text courteous and professional, hardly the kind that instantly gives away [it] away as a fake or scam." He also noted that some of the links in the bogus mail actually lead to legitimate Apple pages.

Clements pinned some of the responsibility on users' trust in Apple. "Absolutely the case," he said when asked if Apple customers' faith in the Cupertino, Calif. company was a factor in getting so many to divulge information.

The MobileMe scam wasn't the first time that phishers have used the Apple brand to fake out consumers. In May, criminals hit iTunes users with sophisticated identity theft attacks, again claiming that credit card problems required them to re-enter information to update their accounts.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?