A 22-year-old Turkish man from London was convicted of attempting to blackmail Apple out of $75,000 in cryptocurrency or a thousand $100 iTunes gift cards by falsely claiming he had access to iCloud and other Apple accounts, various outlets reported on Monday (Dec. 23).
The National Cyber Crime Unit of the U.K.’s National Crime Agency (NCA) arrested Kerem Albayrak at his London home on March 28, 2017. Digital devices were seized including his phone, computers, and hard drive.
During the investigation, NCA agents found phone records that indicated Albayrak was the spokesperson of the hacker group “Turkish Crime Family.” He reportedly bragged to the group, “the attack will happen 99.9 percent. Even if it doesn’t you’re still going to get A LOT of media attention.”
He was sentenced following a two-year investigation by the NCA. He was convicted of blackmail attempt against Apple and given a suspended two-year prison sentence subject to carrying out 300 hours of unpaid work, complying with a six-month electronic curfew and staying out of further trouble with the law.
Immediately following the threat, Apple reached out to U.K. and U.S. law enforcement authorities. Apple and the NCA said there was no evidence that Albayrak or the hacker group had compromised any accounts.
“Albayrak wrongly believed he could escape justice after hacking into two accounts and attempting to blackmail a large multinational corporation,” Anna Smith, a senior investigative officer for the NCA, said in a statement. “During the investigation, it became clear that he was seeking fame and fortune. But cyber-crime doesn’t pay.”
She added, “The NCA is committed to bringing cyber-criminals to justice. It is imperative victims report such compromises as soon as possible and retain all evidence.”
When asked about some of his activities, Albayrak told NCA investigators, “once you get sucked into it [cybercrime], it just escalates and it makes it interesting when it’s illegal … when you have power on the internet it’s like fame and everyone respects you, and everyone is chasing that right now.”
The NCA said it is important for other firms threatened in this way to follow Apple’s example and report the crime.
Following the threat, Apple maintained there had not been any breaches in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud and Apple ID.