50,000 Apple iTunes accounts hacked

Earlier this month, it was reported that a scam involving iTunes and China’s largest online auction site, Taobao.  GlobalTimes reported that about 50,000 Apple iTunes accounts that had been linked to credit cards stolen from users in other countries.  The accounts were sold at prices from one yuan, or about 10p, to 200 yuan, for about  £126 worth of downloadable iTunes.  GlobalTimes said the accounts had to have been stolen because of the prices.

Adding to the suspicious price, the product descriptions in some listings advised buyers to make their iTunes transactions within 24 hours, which made at least one of the merchants believe that some sort of fraud was going on.  At the time, Taobao declined to take the accounts down until they got instructions from Apple.  However, as of Tuesday this week, the accounts had disappeared from the site, and Alibaba, Taobao’s parent group, said they had communicated with Apple and were considering putting the accounts on Taobao’s blacklist.

ITunes accounts have been targeted for scams in the past.  In 2009 a number of stolen iTunes gift cards were sold; those are now on the company’s blacklist.  In the summer of 2010, victims of a scam involving iTunes and Paypal lost a lot of money, and Apple stepped up their security, but obviously it was not enough to deter the thieves that abound on the net.

Taobao, according to official reports, has removed around 7,000,000 illegal products from its site in the past year, and imposed fines on about 590,000 of its members.  In spite of those actions, there is some concern that the problem is not nearly solved, since a lot of items that had been removed at some point showed up on the site again at a later date.