Stalkers impersonate cops to steal real-time location of their targets
We often hear about big tech companies' efforts to safeguard customers' data. They swear to protect it at all costs, but in a major investigation, Motherboard has revealed that the same companies are being tricked into giving away confidential locations of customers. Most telecom giants have been tricked in a well-crafted scam carried out by stalkers and other criminals. Here's how it happens.
Criminals exploiting loopholes in the system
Normally, companies demand a court order before handing over any customer's data to law enforcement agencies. However, sometimes, in urgent cases where giving someone's location may protect them from being harmed, they may give real-time location without an official order. Now, this has transformed into a loophole which fraudsters/stalkers are exploiting to pin down the location of their targets.
They impersonate cops, give fake reasons to extract location data
As part of the scam, fraudsters impersonate cops and convey fake reasons to extract the location of their targets. Motherboard's sources, including famous skip tracer Valerie McGilvrey, confirmed this trick, noting that people who impersonate cops are mostly stalkers, domestic abusers, debt collectors, or bounty hunters. Their story varies from one case to another, but child kidnapping appears to be a common modus operandi.
Worryingly, most telcos have been tricked
Though it's unclear if this trick has been used in India, Motherboard's sources indicate leading telcos like Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint have been targeted. "So many people are doing that and the telcos have been stupid about it," McGilvrey told Motherboard. "They have not done due diligence and called the police directly to verify the case or vet the identity of the person calling."
Now, this raises concerns over data protection practices
The report from Motherboard reflects tech companies are not doing enough to protect user data. We've already seen cases, where companies, including giants like Facebook, have leaked data of millions, giving shady data brokers an opportunity to sell information on the dark web. Now, the case of handing over data willingly not just makes things worse but also increases the risk of heinous crimes.