iPhone

How scammers trick people into unlocking stolen iPhones

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Wondering where your stolen or lost iPhone has gone? Thanks to Activation Lock and Find My iPhone, Apple locks your devices on your Apple ID. This forces thieves to increasingly inventive ways to make the device usable (and salable) again.

Scammers Want You To Remove Activation Lock

It is not enough to just wipe an iPhone as the Activation Lock will persist even if the device undergoes a full software reset. To activate the device after a software reset, the associated Apple ID password must be entered. If this fails, the rightful owner can remove the device from their account using “Erase iPhone” followed by “Remove from Account” using the Find My iPhone feature on iCloud.com.

Removing the iPhone from “Find My” allows the device to be reactivated with a different Apple ID. A device not associated with an Apple ID is worth a lot more than a device, so if the rightful owner can be convinced to remove the activation lock, the thieves will benefit.

Tracking down the rightful owner of a lost or stolen iPhone isn’t difficult when the device is in Lost Mode. This allows the owner to leave a phone number or other method of contact so that anyone who finds the phone can return it to its rightful owner.

RELATED: What is “Lost Mode” on iPhone, iPad or Mac?

How the scam works

Scammers can send text messages (like this one) to the owners of lost or stolen devices, claiming that the iPhone was found alongside all the personal information it contained. It is claimed that photos, contacts, the contents of email and text messages, or even banking and other personal information are at risk.

The goal is to convince owners that the device must be properly wiped to protect this data, and to do that, they need access to the device. They will instruct owners to remove the device from “Find My” on iCloud.com to protect data. In reality, it is highly unlikely that they will have access to this data.

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