Apple products are some of the most expensive and desirable in tech so it makes sense that the company's gift cards are proving an attractive currency for criminals.
On Thursday, the Manhattan District Attorney's office said it has indicted five people for using personal information stolen from around 200 people to fund the purchase of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Apple gift cards, which in turn were used to buy Apple products.
The DA's office alleges that Annie Vuong, a 27-year-old from the Bronx, stole the names, address, birth dates and social security numbers of patients at the Manhattan dental office where she worked. That data was passed to Devin Bazile, a 30-year-old former Apple sales associate from the Bronx, who used it to apply for Apple "instant credit," the lawsuit alleges.
Instant credit is offered by Apple in conjunction with Barclaycard, and provides an immediate credit line for use in the purchase of Apple products. In this case, the DA says credit was extended for various amounts between $2,000 and $7,000.
The approval comes in the form of a barcode, which Bazile and associates are alleged to have shared with Apple Store employees recruited to help in the scheme. The employees worked at Apple Stores in Manhattan, White Plains and New Jersey and used the barcodes to purchase Apple gift cards.
In all, the group allegedly purchased around $700,000 of Apple gift cards, which were subsequently used to buy Apple products including laptops, the Manhattan DA said.
"Using stolen information to purchase Apple products is one of the most common schemes employed by cybercrime and identity theft rings today," District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement.
"We see in case after case how all it takes is single insider at a company -- in this instance, allegedly, a receptionist in a dentists' office -- to set an identity theft ring in motion, which then tries to monetize the stolen information by purchasing Apple goods for resale or personal use," he said.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org