Apple + Recommended + Security & Privacy

iOS Crash Report? Don’t Be Fooled by iPhone/iPad Scammers

Posted on July 16th, 2015 by

ios-crash-fraud

Have you had an unusual error message popping up on your iPhone or iPad?

Keep your wits about you, because it's possible that scammers are attempting to trick you out of your money, by posing as Apple tech support.

iPhone and iPad owners are being warned not to fall for a scam being perpetrated against iOS users that could hit them in the pocket.

As British broadsheet The Telegraph reports today, scammers have been displaying bogus error messages on potential victims' iDevices — fraudulently posing as Apple's technical support team.

The messages attempt to trick iPhone and iPad users into calling a phone number, where they will inevitably be asked to pay to have their precious devices fixed.

A typical message reads as follows (I've removed the phone number):

**** IOS Crash Report ****

IOS crashed previously due to unwanted websites visit. There is a problem with the configuration of your IOS. Please call Apple Technical Support at 0800-XXX-XXXX. Click on OK this will attempt to send a crash report to Apple. Call now Apple 0800-XXX-XXXX.

Although The Telegraph is reporting on the scam hitting users in the United Kingdom, a quick search of the Internet reveals that iOS users in North America have been troubled by the fraudsters since at least last September.

According to reports on the Apple Support forum, if the message does scare you into calling the number displayed, a "technician" may attempt to convince you that a third-party app has caused your iPhone or iPad to crash, and encourage you to tell them your credit card details to receive a fix.

In short, this scam appears to be an evolution of the "Microsoft Tech Support scam" where unauthorised parties posing as Microsoft phone computer users up out of the blue, and try to convince them that their (typically) Windows computer is infected with malware. The elderly and vulnerable are most likely to become victims, often handing over their payment card details or allowing the "tech support staff" to remotely log into the computer whereupon they can install malware.

The bogus iOS Crash Report message is a little different as it's *you* who calls the scammer, rather than them initially calling you. But the call is prompted by the message popping up while potential victims' surf the web.

The fraudulent alert is appearing while users are surfing websites with Safari (the default browser bundled with iOS devices), and many victims have reported that the messages can be banished by following a simple procedure:

  1. Place the phone in Airplane mode.
  2. Go to Settings > Safari
  3. Click on Clear History and Website Data

Other users have reported that it helps to ensure that Block Pop-ups is enabled (also found under Settings > Safari).

Safari settings for disabling pop-ups

It's good that the fix is relatively easy, but that's only helpful if you know about it.

The risk is that many people may not be so tech-savvy, and may simply believe the seemingly helpful error message that has appeared on their smartphone's screen and make the phone call.

You can do your bit to help the community by warning your friends and family about scams like this, and reminding them that a little skepticism — especially if they get so far as being asked to reach for a credit card — could be a good thing.

About Graham Cluley

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s, having been employed by companies such as Sophos, McAfee and Dr Solomon's. He has given talks about computer security for some of the world's largest companies, worked with law enforcement agencies on investigations into hacking groups, and regularly appears on TV and radio explaining computer security threats. Graham Cluley was inducted into the InfoSecurity Europe Hall of Fame in 2011, and was given an honorary mention in the "10 Greatest Britons in IT History" for his contribution as a leading authority in internet security. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley. View all posts by Graham Cluley →
  • Seven from Richmond va

    This was really helpful, the same thing happened to me today, a foreign guy gets on the phone and says it’s a third party app doing it and they could fix my problem for 59.99 when I said I didn’t have it they said 29.99 I was born at night, but not last night, thanks so much for sharing

  • Rasha Jones-Warren

    Any advice for removing this pop up on a Macbook? It has safari locked :(

    • Idk

      If your very desperate you may have to backup and do a factory reset (If its possible)

  • Debbie Cox

    Thank you so much I just applied this fix!

  • Candace

    I just got this but didn’t know about the airplane mode/ clear history steps… I couldnt close the page but I knew it was a sketchy msg- I hit ok on the pop up then closed the page, closed safari and then cleared my history & data and then rebooted my phone… Am I ok? Even tho I hit OK on the pop up???? Please help! Ps these scammers suck :/

  • Fred Lincoln

    Yep your fine
    As long as you didn’t call the number.
    👍

    • Frank

      i called but immediately hung up

  • Fred Lincoln

    Now approved 😊

  • Tonja LC

    Just so happens my sister called me earlier today because this showed up on her PC. She called the number and when they asked for access to her computer and money to fix the issue, she hung up and called me. Low and behold the exact same thing just happened on my iPad and all I did was go to a website… no downloading of anything….. These scammers are extreemly busy.

    Thanks for insight and the recommended fix. It worked like a charm.

  • Cynthia Torres

    I’m getting this message on my iPhone 6s using iOS 9.0.2 in the Google Chrome app. The steps described above do not work from Chrome, and I cannot delete the app. If anyone can help me with this, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!

    • ellentk

      just happened to me with chrome on iOS 8. I deleted the app, restarted the iPad and reinstalled chrome. I made sure that history was not set up to sync among my device

    • ellentk

      just happened to me with chrome on iOS 8. I deleted chrome, restarted the iPad and reinstalled chrome from app store. make sure that history is not set up to sync among your devices b4 reinstalling. (you’ll need at least two devices running chrome to do this)

  • Chris

    Thank you Graham…worked immediately. You are great!

  • # FMan

    There are also some ad-based networks that apps use that have these coming around. I’ve identified at least one app that has these specific pop-ups and only when I run this app. I would think Apple would have an issue with this, but apparently they do not as it’s been going on for a while.

  • Alice Alcala

    this happend to me. Before I was asked for any money, I was asked for my email address, which I (foolishly) provided. Then I was asked to connect my ipad to my (windows) comupter, which I did. As soon as I did, the “tech” guy hung up. Does this mean he now has access to my information on either my ipad or computer, or worse…both?

  • Alison Bellinger

    Thank you so much. This just happened when trying to get some stupid instagram app. I was on the phone with the “help desk tech” when he said something fishy: “Oh goodness, I hope you don’t use your iOS device for anything like online banking or anything personal.”
    Of course I do.
    How do these “techs” sleep at night?
    Anyway, your post here just SAVED me. Thank you.

  • Christine Hubbard

    I just had a pop up while watching a video on Facebook. It popped up and told me to immediately call this number because I could have someone trying to hack my phone. I called and no business name was mentioned it just told me to wait for the next available associate. Someone came on about 5 minutes later and told me they could help me. Told me to go to settings general and then about. When I got to there they told me to read the serial number on my phone. Thats when I knew something wasn’t right. Why do they need my serial number. I argued with them and he told me to pull up their website if I don’t believe them. I did that and it said it was in Texas with a PrO box number. He said if it was a scam we wouldn’t put our address on there. Ok so I talked to two different people and they were not from our country if you know what I mean. I’m sure if they were from Texas they would not have an accent from India. Please be aware!!!! Btw I hung up and gave no information…

    • susie

      I got a pop and stupidly gave serial number can they track me and stuff
      Please reply

  • Bruce

    I was just victimized by a company like this called Accusoft LLC based in Manhattan. Their pop up alarm notification definitely says to call APPLE support and gives an 800 number. What I want to know is: Why the hell is APPLE not doing something about this to protect it’s customers?!!!!!

  • Brundy

    I got the pop up, call the number and foolishly gave my serial number, but became aware that it was a scam when they asked me to pay $29.99 to clean it . I challenged them , hanged up and reset my iPad to factory. Can they use my serial number to get to my iPad

  • Uncle Mikey

    Ok, so I’ve done the fix as illustrated above, but all I get when I try to open Safari is a pop-up box “Cannot Open Page – Safari cannot open the page because the address is invalid”. Any ideas anyone?

  • tasha

    This just happened to me. Once i called the number i became suspicious of the “tech” and all the background noise. She didnt get far with because I did a quick google search on the pop up. She figured I was suspicious because she was inpatient when She told me to plug my iphone to my cpu. I hung up on her ass! However if Apple is aware of these scams they need to alert customers!!

  • Lone Wolf (Bethany)

    Not sure if this is the same thing but just maybe five minutes ago I got a popup that looked exactly like the alert you get when a new software update is available, nothing else was on it but the same words you’d see if there really was an update to download with the button you are able to click to open the settings, I clicked it and my phone froze, It just unfroze less than a minute ago and according to my settings my software is 100% up to date.
    I wish now I had taken a screenshot of the seemingly normal update alert.
    I followed the three step procedure given on this album post but if what happened to me isn’t the same as this I don’t know if it will have done any good.

  • Scott

    Damn. I’m glad I’m not very trustworthy. Just got a message warning that I’m being hacked and all my info was being attacked. Shut the phone down and called the number from a landline. Arabic dude asked me to give him my serial number and I said no. He said ok good luck with your problem and hung up. I googled this and came across this easy and quick fix. My phone is no longer frozen. Thank you Graham.

  • Alexey

    i got a notification that said:

    “exclusive.notification-

    !!! WARNING !!!

    severe issues found!

    press ok to repair device”

    and a ok button. i closed the app I was in and did what this article told me. but this article says that you get a phone number but I didn’t. so am I safe? also if this helps I am jailbroken but I’m on 9.3.3 and its semitethered so whenever i reboot the jailbreak is not there so I have to activate it from an app. and I rebooted and haven’t rejailbroke in a few days because the jailbreak is laggy.
    and I did not install any sketchy tweaks. Only tweak that I read about and knew were safe. nothing sketchy.

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