According to IT security firm, Smarttech.ie, hackers attempting to steal personal data are using fake emails that appear to be from the Apple Store (Republic of Ireland) to try and trick their targets into revealing sensitive information including bank details. These “phishing scams” remain as popular as ever, and in fact they have been on the rise over the last few months.

What appears to be a legitimate email warning the Apple customer that a suspicious purchase has been made using their Apple ID is actually a ruse to get the recipient of the email to click on a bogus link in the body of the email that brings the Apple customer to a webpage controlled by the cyber criminals.

Ronan Murphy, CEO of IT Security Company Smarttech.ie said that “at Smarttech.ie we have seen a significant increase in the reporting of phishing scams over the last few months. The use of phishing emails has been going on for quite a while now, but what we are seeing is a more targeted approach from the cyber criminals. In this case, the hackers have selected someone who is an actual Apple customer which is not a coincidence.”

Apple Fraudulent Emails October 2014 - Smarttech.ie

“The fake email is designed to provoke an immediate reaction and preys on the persons fear that their bank or credit card details have been stolen and are been used to make fraudulent purchases. People’s first reaction to an email warning them that their Apple ID may have been compromised ,is to click on the link so as to avoid having to pay for goods they did not buy. Fortunately, the person who received this email was aware of these types of scam emails but if someone did not know about phishing emails, the most natural thing to do would be to click on the link and give the hacker your details. In this particular case, the email is very convincing as it does not contain any basic spelling mistakes which are a tell-tale sign of a scam email as English is usually not the first language of the hackers. This shows that the hackers are evolving and becoming more sophisticated in their approach.” continued Smarttech.ie CEO Ronan Murphy

In cases where the person has clicked on the link, they are brought to a webpage which the hackers have control of and can take the personal information supplied by the Apple customer. The sensitive data is then ether sold or used to make fraudulent purchases online. By clicking on the link, hackers are also able to install malware onto the computer unbeknownst to the owner.

For people who receive a suspicious or scam email, Smarttech.ie CEO Ronan Murphy had this advice “the golden rule is never to reply or click on any links in emails requesting personal information. Companies like Apple or financial institutions which are used in phishing scams will never email you looking for your personal information. There are other ways to spot a scam email, including the email address of the sender. In the image, you can tell from the senders’ email address that it is not really from the Apple Store.”