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Thieves Target iPhones at Bars, Leaving Victims Stranded and Accounts Locked

In a recent wave of crimes, thieves have been specifically targeting iPhone users at bars, resulting in the theft of tens of thousands of dollars and leaving victims with locked Apple accounts.

NBC News’ Stephanie Gosk interviewed Wall Street Journal journalist Joanna Stern to shed light on this alarming trend and provide advice on protecting personal information.

The modus operandi of these thieves involves stealing victims’ passcodes to gain access to their iPhones.

This sinister tactic takes advantage of vulnerable individuals who may be intoxicated and unaware of their surroundings.

Joanna Stern, an expert in technology reporting, uncovered a series of incidents where iPhones were ripped off at bars, leading to significant financial losses and locked Apple accounts.

The severity of the issue became apparent when numerous victims from various cities across the United States reached out to share their experiences.

NBC’s digital team also assisted in uncovering a ring of thieves who allegedly targeted gay bars in Manhattan.

Tragically, two individuals, John Umberger and Julio Ramirez, lost their lives after being drugged and having their phones stolen.

Three suspects have since been charged with murder.

One victim, Taylor, recounts waking up after a night out only to discover his iPhone missing.

Upon checking his computer, he found numerous fraud alert emails, indicating that the thieves had changed his password and gained access to his Apple account.

They proceeded to add his credit cards to Apple Pay and went on a shopping spree across New York City, leaving him with a loss of approximately $15,000.

Despite recovering some of the stolen funds, Taylor was unable to regain access to his Apple account, which contained personal photos, contacts, and vital information.

To protect oneself from such incidents, experts recommend taking immediate action to change the Apple ID password.

Additionally, enabling the Recovery Key feature may provide an extra layer of security.

However, the unfortunate reality is that once a thief changes someone’s Apple ID password and activates the Recovery Key, it becomes nearly impossible for the original account owner to regain control.

Apple acknowledges these attacks and emphasizes their commitment to user protection, stating that they work tirelessly to safeguard accounts and data.

They are constantly exploring additional measures to enhance security.

Users are advised to strengthen their iPhone passcodes by opting for longer alphanumeric codes instead of the standard four-digit option.

Privacy restrictions within the Screen Time and Content settings can also be employed to block unauthorized access, albeit at the cost of convenience.

With iPhones containing users’ most important data, such as personal photos and contacts, it is crucial to remain vigilant against thieves who prey on unsuspecting individuals in vulnerable situations.

By taking proactive steps to protect personal information and implementing robust security measures, iPhone users can reduce the risk of falling victim to these crimes.

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