What do thieves do with stolen iPhones

How iPhone thieves fight their greatest enemy: iCloud

If you lose your iPhone and have iCloud activated on it, you can lock the device or try to locate it. This is of course a huge problem for thieves. Arrests have been made several times because the location of the stolen device was found using the "Find my Phone" feature. In addition, the iPhones are useless and uninteresting for the black market as long as they can be locked with one click.

That is why strategies against the iCloud are very popular with thieves. Motherboard has now disclosed in a detailed report what criminals have come up with to solve the problem. The first variant is very simple: In the event of robberies, the robbers immediately ask their victims to delete the iCloud from their device. This has happened several times in large US cities in the past few months.


Not all devices are stolen in a robbery, rather thieves are likely to be in the majority. You want to avoid a confrontation with the owner, so you need to use other ways to delete iCloud. Two different ways have proven to be effective: phishing the owners or social engineering in the Apple Store.

In the first method, thieves contact their victims via email or SMS, but pretend to be Apple. They claim the stolen device was found and ask for the iCloud password to reveal its location. As soon as users submit this, the device is lost. Software is even circulating on the black market with which the contact made by Apple can be imitated in a deceptively real manner.

Social engineering

Another possibility is to trick Apple employees themselves. To do this, the thieves print out a receipt, then slip into the role of a technically inexperienced iPhone owner who has forgotten his iCloud password. You then try to delete the iCloud account in the Apple Store.

Apart from criminals, however, there are often problems with iCloud accounts in legal transactions as well. Many repair and second-hand shops are struggling with lockable devices. Then there are the mobile operators themselves, who get their iPhones back from their customers, for example when they buy a new iPhone. (red, 7.2.2019)