- A thief stole a man’s iPhone in a Manhattan bar, replacing it with a fake one.
- He thought the battery was dead and only when he tried to charge it did he realize it wasn’t his phone.
- When he asked for help regaining access to his account, he said Apple was “incredibly useless”.
Trent was out with friends one night in Manhattan in February 2021 when he realized that a daring thief had replaced his iPhone with a fake one.
Trent, who just wanted to go by his name but learned Insider’s identity, went out for dinner and drinks with his friends. At one point, the 28-year-old checked his phone on the table and assumed the battery was dead because it wouldn’t turn on.
On his way home, he stopped to get a pizza and asked the store staff if he could charge his device there. “That’s when I realized it wasn’t my phone,” Trent told Insider.
“At first I thought the pizzeria had changed my phone, but according to the police, the pizzeria was quite familiar there,” Trent said, adding that the police told him that the pizzeria “wouldn’t do that.”
Thinking it was simple theft, Trent filed a police report seen by Insider. “It was much worse. They knew my password to get into my phone, which gave them access to my password manager and then all my credit cards and banking information,” he said.
Trent told Insider that he suspected the thief had hacked into his iPhone by observing him until he saw that he had entered his passcode. He suspects the thief, and then somehow, without Trent noticing, he takes his iPhone XS out of its case and replaces it with a fake one.
When his phone, which he had placed on the table, was out of sight, he suspected the thief had taken it and changed it within seconds.
After figuring out what happened, he couldn’t access his Apple account. “They changed my passwords – I couldn’t access anything anymore,” Trent said. “They opened a credit card in my name, bought an iPad, emptied my Venmo.”
The thief repeatedly tried to buy iPads from Target stores in New York City.
Bank statements that Insider reviewed showed $1,633 for an iPad and $229.68 from Trent’s Venmo account. Another accusation showed that the thief tried to withdraw another $980.
Trent contacted Apple, hoping it would help the company change its password. The tech giant said that the thief should wait a day after requesting a password reset, and the automated system only allows one request every 24 hours. If Trent can’t replace it the next day, Apple said it would have to wait another 27 days.
Trent said that although he could prove his identity to speed up the process, Apple told him “it could be anyone” and therefore won’t take any action. “It was incredibly frustrating, especially since I could see thieves have access to everything and opened my messages before I did,” he told Insider.
Almost two weeks after the theft, Trent finally regained access to his Apple account, but later realized that the thief had to replace all his documents, including his passport and driver’s license, now that they had copies.
Earlier this year, Insider reported on Reyhan Ayas, whose iPhone was stolen in November and Apple found it useless to regain access to her account. By the time his ordeal was over, the person who stole his phone had managed to withdraw $10,000 from his bank account.
Apple did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Have you been a victim of theft or have insight to share? Contact this reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @samtabahriti