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Apple Store Account Phishing Scam

Outline
Emails purporting to be from Apple claim that the recipient must follow a link to verify his or her Apple Store account and billing details or risk having the account deactivated.



Brief Analysis
The emails are not from Apple. The messages are phishing scams designed to steal login and credit card details.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

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Last updated: 30th April 2012
First published: 28th October 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Examples
(April 2012)
Subject: Important Security Message From Apple Store

Dear Member,

It has come to our attention that your account Billing Information records are out of date. That requires you to update your Billing Information. Failure to update your records will result in account termination.

Please update your records within 24 hours. Once you have updated your account records, your account session will not be interrupted and will continue as normal. Failure to update will result in cancellation of service, Terms of Service (TOS) violations or future billing problems.

Click on the reference link below and enter your login information on the following page to confirm your Billing Information records... please go to [link to scam website removed] to confirm your Billing Information records.

Thanks,
Apple Customer Support

(October, 2011)
Subject: Email Alert (Apple Store)

Dear Apple Customer,

Apple Technical Support just attempted to verify your online account information.
Unfortunately we are unable to verify it on our database today,
Take the following steps to ensure that your account has not been deactivated & Restore Your Account & Update your credit card Details:
by click on the [link removed] to restore your account within the next 48 Hours in Order to Continue using it .

Thank you.



Detailed Analysis
According to these emails, which claim to be from Apple, the recipient's Apple Store account information needs to be verified. The messages instruct the user to follow an included link to verify the account and avoid account deactivation.

However, the emails are certainly not from Apple. In fact, the messages are phishing scams designed to trick recipients into divulging their personal and financial information to Internet criminals. Those who follow the links in the scam messages will be taken to a bogus website designed to look like a genuine Apple Store page where they are asked to "login" as shown in the following screenshot:
Bogus Apple Store Login

Once they have "logged in" on the bogus site, users are then presented with the following "verification" form which requests address details, credit card information and even their email address and password.
Bogus Apple verification form

If a victim fills in the form as requested, all the information provided can be collected by the criminals operating the scam. Armed with this stolen information, the scammers can then login to their victim's real Apple account and treat it as their own as well as conduct fraudulent credit card transactions. They can also hijack their victim's email account and use it to perpetrate further scam and spam attacks. The criminals may also be able to collate enough personal information from the bogus verification form and from the hijacked accounts to enable them to steal their victim's identity.

Both the scam emails and the bogus website are disguised so that they seem to be genuine. The message uses HTML to make the link to the scam website appear to be legitimate. The formatting, colour scheme and navigation used on the scam website mirror those used on the real Apple website. And, in a further attempt to create an illusion of legitimacy, secondary links on the scam site point to genuine Apple web pages.

The examples shown here are just two in a long line of phishing scams that have targeted Apple users. Phishing scams of this nature are very common. Users should be very wary of unsolicited emails that ask them to provide personal or financial information by following a link or by opening an attached file. If you receive such an email, do not click on any links or open any attachments that it may contain.

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References
Apple Customers, Beware of This Email Scam>/a>
Check Links in HTML Emails
Apple $100 Discount Card Phishing Scam
Phishing Scams - Anti-Phishing Information

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Last updated: 30th April 2012
First published: 28th October 2011
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer