A 22-year-old man who claimed to have access to over 300 million iCloud accounts and threatened to factory reset all accounts unless Apple pays ransom has pleaded guilty in London for trying to blackmail Apple.
In March 2017, Kerem Albayrak from North London claimed to be a spokesman for a hacking group called the “Turkish Crime Family” and in possession of 319 million iCloud accounts.
Albayrak gave Apple a deadline until April 7, 2017, to pay up $75,000 in crypto-currency or $100,000 worth of iTunes gift cards in return for deleting the copy of stolen database, the U.K. National Crime Agency said in a statement, calling the blackmailer a “fame-hungry cyber-criminal.”
However, if the company failed to meet his demands, Albayrak threatened that he would start remotely wiping the victim’s Apple devices, factory reset iCloud accounts, and dump the stolen database online.
In late March 2017, the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit arrested Albayrak at his home and seized digital devices, including his phone, computers and hard drives, after Apple contacted law enforcement in the U.K. and the U.S.
The NCA investigation into the matter confirmed that there were no signs of a compromise of Apple’s iCloud network and that the data Albayrak claimed to have in possession was actually from “previously compromised third-party services which were mostly inactive.”
Earlier this month, the blackmailer pleaded guilty to one count of blackmail and two counts of “unauthorized acts with intent to impair the operation of or prevent/hinder access to a computer.”
On 20 December, Albayrak was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court and given a two year suspended jail term, full 300 hours of unpaid work in the neighbourhood, and a six-month electronic curfew.
“Albayrak wrongly believed he could escape justice after hacking into two accounts and attempting to blackmail a large multi-national corporation,” said Anna Smith, a Senior Investigative Officer for the NCA.
“During the investigation, it became clear that he was seeking fame and fortune. But cyber-crime doesn’t pay. The NCA is committed to bringing cyber-criminals to justice. It is imperative that victims report such compromises as soon as possible and retain all evidence.”
When asked about his act, Albayrak told NCA investigators that “once you get sucked into it [cyber crime], it just escalates and it makes it interesting when it’s illegal,” adding “when you have power on the internet it’s like fame and everyone respects you, and everyone is chasing that right now.”