I had my identity stolen through my iCloud
I almost lost my job, my flat and my savings
I can hold my hands up and say I’m not the most tech-savvy person. I didn’t change my passwords for anything that often, and I used to be guilty of having the same password for just about everything. I’m also apparently guilty of being very generic looking – enough for someone to pass as me, go into a phone store, claim I’d damaged my SIM card and walk away with an exact replica through my phone insurance.
I had no idea what was happening and even less of a clue what it looked like I was doing. The fraudster could send and receive messages from my account, as well as making phone calls, purchasing add-ons and adding other devices to my contract. So when I finally received a message from my (understandably) angry boss asking why my phone had been turned off all day, and when he finally got through ‘some weird guy’ answered. I was completely oblivious.
As well as offending and making abusive phone calls to my boss, I’d also received a text from my landlord that day. It was simply asking if I’d paid my rent for July on time. We’ve always prided ourselves on having a great, friendly relationship with our landlords as we’ve lived in the same flat for two years now. So you can imagine my sheer horror to find the hacker had replied: “Fuck off, I’m sick of paying for shit.”
My boss was so angry about the fact I’d been un-contactable on the day of our last meeting of my internship (my phone had been reading ‘No Service’ all day due to someone else using the same SIM), I couldn’t quite get the details of who he’d spoken to out of him. He was confused as to why ‘some strange guy’ was answering my phone when I hadn’t responded to any texts. My phone had been in my hand all day and I had no indication anyone had tried to contact me -the hacker had all access to my communication.
But it gets worse. When I made it back to my flat, fraught and just about hysterical, my mum had sent me loads of worried inbox messages saying my bank had had to enforce an emergency suspension on my mobile banking. My heart absolutely sank. My account has every penny I’d ever saved in my life in, as well as inheritances and my ISA – if someone had access to my Clone Phone insurance SIM they had access to absolutely everything.
The whole case is currently in the hands of the fraud squad department of the company I bank with – and in a strange way I’m relieved the hacker was so stupid to start texting and ringing my contacts otherwise I’d have never suspected a thing. The signal in the part of town we currently live in is always unreliable, so the fact my phone was saying it was out of service didn’t worry me at all. I’d have been broke, jobless and if they had continued to harass my landlord, I could have lost my flat.
I’d love to be able to round this off with a warning, of how people can stay more secure but I’m genuinely baffled at how I was targeted for fraud. My phone company asked if I’d lost my photo ID – but even if I had, I’ve been living outside of the UK for three months and this all happened back at home.
Luckily, my landlords were massively understanding and instead of being stuck in Prague with no access to the money in my bank, my sister wired an amount over and managed to pay my rent through her bank account. It all seems to have been nipped in the bud and now I’m just left hoping my life savings are retrievable.