A new iOS phishing scam has been discovered that attempts to extort money from iPhone and iPad users by deceiving them into believing that their device has been compromised. As reported by the New York Daily News and The Telegraph, a number of iOS device users in both the U.S. and U.K. have encountered the scam, which presents a pop-up message in Safari advising them that their device has crashed for reasons such as a “third-party application in yourphone” or “unwanted websites visit” [sic] and advising them to call a number that in some cases is identified as Apple technical support. After calling the number, users are being asked to pay amounts ranging from $19 to $80 to fix the issue. The differing pop-up messages suggests that there may more than one group exploiting the issue. While this sort of scam has plagued desktop browsers for years, it has only recently begun affecting iOS users; some more isolated instances were reported late last year, although the scams appear to have resurfaced more actively over the past few days, and this the first time they have been reported in the U.K.
The issue can be avoided by ensuring that pop-ups are blocked in the Safari browser by enabling Safari, Block Pop-ups in the iOS Settings app. However, users who are already experiencing the issue will need to enable Airplane Mode to disable their Internet connection and then use the Clear History and Website Data option under the Safari settings. An Apple support document provides more guidance on securing Safari.