iTunes accounts hacked in year-long scam

Every year, Jim Emert's kids ask him what he wants for Christmas.

"My first response is nothing," he said. But, "they never accept that so I always go for the iTunes gift card."

After he got several of them for his birthday in October, Emert loaded all of the gift cards into his iTunes account until he had a balance of about $170 waiting to be spent.

But he never got to spend it. One day, he got an email from Apple.

"It said my account on iTunes had been frozen," Emert said. "It was because my account had been hacked."

Emert said the hackers spent all of the $170 in his account buying game apps for smartphones.

So, he decided to find out more.

"Just out of curiosity, I wondered, ‘am I the only guy that's ever had his iTunes account hacked?'"

It turns out, he isn't.

There is an ever-growing Apple support forum on the company's website full of complaints from people who have also had their iTunes accounts hacked.

The first post is from November 2010 and the most recent from December 22, 2011.

There are now 65 pages in the forum with 974 replies.

Most of the people who were hacked asked the same question of Apple that Emert did: "Is there any way I can get any refund on what I lost?"

For Emert, the answer was yes. Apple refunded the lost money, but made it clear that it was an exception to their policy, which states that all sales are final.

After looking at what had been bought with his money, Apple wrote to tell him that, "it was so totally out of the box for what you normally buy, that we've decided to refund your credit," Emert said.

The hack is being called the Towson Hack because many of the victims have seen their addresses changed to Towson, Maryland in their iTunes account when their money is stolen.

It's also been linked to PayPal accounts as well as Sega's KingdomConquest game, according to an analysis of the hack done by

The ABC15 Investigators tried, but didn't get a response from Apple about the Towson Hack. Judging by the posts on the Apple forum, the company has refunded many victims of the hack.

But one thing seems to be clear, it's still going on.

There are a few things you can do to try to protect yourself from being hacked.

Be sure to change your iTunes password often. Also, don't load all of your iTunes gift card credit onto your account at once. You'll lose less cash if you get hacked.

Have you been hacked? Let me know by emailing me or going to my ABC15 Facebook page.

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