Hacker Tries to Blackmail Apple for $150,000 in BTC After Compromising 319 Million iCloud Accounts

  • A 21-year-old North London resident and computer analyst reportedly hacked 319 million iCloud accounts.
  • The hacker demanded that Apple Inc pay $150,000 in bitcoin in exchange for him not selling compromised accounts. 

A computer analyst named Kerem Albayrak, 21, reportedly attempted to blackmail Apple Inc, the California-based multinational technology firm, for £115,000 (appr. $150,000) in bitcoin (BTC) and £800 (appr. $1,045) worth of iTunes vouchers.

According to the DailyMail, Albayrak had published a video on YouTube that showed him hacking into iCloud accounts. The analyst, who is a resident of Hornsey, North London, had allegedly demanded Apple a large payment in exchange for him not exploiting the private information of the accounts he claimed to have hacked.

Charged With "Unauthorized Acts", Blackmailing

Shortly after, Albayrak was taken into police custody, after which he appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ court and was reportedly charged with “blackmail” and “unauthorized acts intending to hinder access to a computer”, the DailyMail wrote.

During the court hearing, it was determined that Albayrak first demanded that £50,000 (appr. $65,000) in BTC be transferred to a bitcoin address he provided. However, he later increased the amount to £115,000 (appr. $150,000), in addition to £840 (appr. $1,100) in iTunes gift cards.

The computer analyst had reportedly promised Apple that he would not sell the hacked personal information belonging to over 319 million Apple iCloud users if the giant tech firm paid the amount he had demanded.

The Westminster Magistrates court has now charged Albayrak with one count of blackmail and two counts of “unauthorized acts intending to hinder access to a computer.” At present, Albayrak has been released on “unconditional” bail and a plea hearing and trial preparation hearing have been scheduled for November 14th, 2018 at the Southwark Crown Court.

Prosecuting lawyer, Lorna Vincent, confirmed: 

Mr. Karem Albayrak is accused of sending emails to Apple making financial demands for downloading database iCloud accounts and factory resetting those iCloud accounts. He entered into the accounts of the alleged victims and posted a video of his hack onto YouTube.

Prosecuting Lawyer

Bitcoin Blackmailing Scams

As CryptoGlobe reported in August, a new type of bitcoin blackmailing scam had surfaced that targeted “unfaithful” men. The scammers demanded that a $8,600 “confidentiality fee” be paid in BTC in exchange for them not disclosing “the secret [the victim had allegedly] been keeping from [their] wife."

Earlier in July, another bitcoin blackmailing scam had attempted to extort $1,900 in the pseudonymous cryptocurrency from adult content watchers. The hackers had reportedly used malware to record people watching porn.

The victims were then sent emails in which they were told the hackers had access to all their email contacts, and that they would send recorded footage of them watching adult content to all their contacts. However, Cornell computer science professor Emin Gun Sirer had warned that it was most likely just a “bluff” and told everyone who received such emails to “never negotiate, never pay.”

Weekly Newsletter

Israeli Hacker Indicted For $1.75 Million Cryptocurrency Theft

A hacker from Tel Aviv named Eliyahu Gigi was recently indicted for his alleged role in stealing roughly NIS 6.1 million (or $1.75 million) in cryptocurrencies from people in numerous different countries, including Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

According the indictment filed this week, Gigi operated numerous scam websites that infected computers with malware that would steal cryptocurrencies that were stored on the devices.

The hacker stole nearly $2 million worth of bitcoin, ethereum, and dash, before they were arrested in June of this year. Gigi carefully covered his tracks by attempting to use remote servers and doing his best to conceal the cryptocurrencies and the wallet addresses that they were stored in.

He then transferred the currencies between different wallets, split them into different cryptocurrencies and used other tactics to obfuscate the ownership of the funds.

During the investigation, it was initially suspected that Gigi was guilty of stealing $100 million, however, once the investigation was concluded, that number was significantly scaled down to less than $2 million.

According to the Israeli publication Globes the investigation was conducted by the Israeli Police's cyber unit, and led to the arrest of Gigi and his younger brother, a 22-year-old demobilized soldier. The news outlet adds:

At the outset of the investigation, suspicions were raised that the two brothers had stolen $100 million from digital accounts kept in bitcoin through an international fishing fraud. The indictment eventually filed was against only the older brother, and the initial suspicions that $100 million had been stolen were scaled down to NIS 6 million. [$1.75 million]

Police were initially tipped off to the crime after receiving reports the hacker was sending messages to users on cryptocurrency forums, directing them to a website that claimed to offer wallet management software.

Some of the users who received the message thought that the website looked suspicious. Worried about their security, they reported the websites and Gigi's forum accounts to police.