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How I became penpals with the kid who stole my iPhone

I always wanted to go to India. I was pretty indignant when in 2011 my iPhone turned out without me.

I think it's only fair to blame my friend Blair for about 5 percent of the blame. One group of us was in a London bar (19459009) pretending to be adults, looking for more sophisticated ways to say "second-smallest bottle," while in a semi-ironic attempt knocking over wine terms to impress our waiter. "Oaky." "Fruity." "Hmm … tough."

What truly impressed him, however, was Blair, a man so charming that in the end he only gains people by being there. The waiter rewarded his charm by taking the leftover wine from other people's tables after he left. a quarter bottle here, half a bottle here. Well, this is really beautiful …

I was drunk, I said.

Was there a professional thief who stole smartphones in this bar? Or did an opportunist stagger on the edge of the table as the unlucky owner turned in a circle, trying to put on his coat by slipping her arm into the bonnet? Whatever it was when I turned around, my cell phone was gone.

I called my carrier from a friend and they locked my phone. Then I politely declared that I could not cancel my contract – I just had to buy a new phone. I bought a new iPhone and chatted for weeks.

It was not until several months later that I received my first e-mail from Sachi. It read:

Hey Erica, this is Sachi from India. I bought your iPhone that you used before. I want to know what password you have saved for iTunes. I had recently reset all settings in the phone. I'm having trouble downloading apps. Please email me if you can … Thanks, I was shocked. Is he kidding? This guy had my phone, clearly had my contact information and now wanted my password? I took a deep breath and responded in a voice consistent with my opinion, recorded by Liam-Neeson-in :

"I give it to you," I replied, "if you tell me who has you sold my stolen phone . "

What" useless "is a locked phone really? Whatever my carrier did, it's hardly a kill switch: all Sachi had to do was turn it on before he had a direct connection with me – my name, my e-mail address, my personal information.

"It's not necessarily" third-party "unusable," says Ian Heritage, Internet security architect at Trend Micro. "A locked phone is like a phone in airplane mode: you can connect to a Wi-Fi network and use it as a device like a computer, but you can not necessarily do the phone calls, Apple would not allow you to re register or create another iTunes account. That's probably why this guy asked for your iTunes password because he could not use other apps. "

Sachi answered quickly I opened the email, cracked his knuckles and was eager to fight with this overbearing, criminal little girl …

" Hey, I'm sorry it's not stolen … "" I do not have one who sold it because my dad bought it and I'm only 16 … "

Oh. He is a child. I put down my nunchucks.

"U live at London rite ???", the e-mail went on. "All your personal information was in the end … I deleted it, so do not worry … But who was stolen? «

" It was stolen from my pocket in London, "I replied. Needless to say, it was really on the table when I was struggling with the basic motor functions that try to put on my coat, and I do not want to have a bad influence on the boy, I told myself. I explained in a much friendlier tone than I had planned that I could not give him my password because it could not be used by both of us and that an iTunes password is tied to a bank account.

"Still," I said to him, "I hope you like the phone. Someone should do it. "

" Heyy, "he replied," Thanks for the information …. You are sweet. But the connection from London to Mumbai seems strange … I feel guilty now if you use your phone … Really. Can I help you anyway? And by the way, my dad would have bought it, if he knew. The seller is not a thief, because there is always a long chain. Can we still stay in contact through the post office ???

We did it.

When I tell Ian Heritage about it, he immediately steals the idea that I have a pen pal, but I say, "That certainly can not be counted as phishing, is it?" [19659021] "You immediately told me that someone asked for your password, and as a security expert, I see it as a criminal activity," he says. It's true that smartphone theft is usually followed by a password-taking step, but it's usually far more demanding than a polite request.

"It could have been a phishing attack," admits Joseph Cox, an older writer of ] Motherboard "Maybe they thought if they really did, then just hand it over – but I see much better phishing attacks. "The goal is software with templates that look like real Apple emails with a Google Maps interface. The email alleges that your phone has been tracked, there is a red needle pointing to the alleged location on a map, and you are asked to click on a link that will lead you to a personal information donation box that will serve as a iCloud login page is disguised. [19659024] "I'd say the kid is probably real," says Joseph, "because there are far better phishing attacks than" please give me your password.

The path for stolen smartphones is complex and varied; If a professional Apple picker stole my cell phone, I would assume that they are either a hacker or know one to unlock and resell. Instead, it seems they made a quick sale. Maybe it was sold on eBay as part of a series of blocked iPhones, probably for far less than a usable phone, and then again and again until it landed in Mumbai and was sold to Sachi's father. I think my phone has been broadcast in the cheapest way in the world at every stage. Nobody bothered to make anything more profitable or tell Sachi's father that a cheap phone is sometimes not a phone at all.

I think Sachi was exactly who he said. I do not think he was phishing. I think his dad got a bad customer service. I wonder how much money my phone has earned and how many different people are between leaving my hand and arriving at Sachi. I guess much less than I spent on a new one.

Next year, Sachi and I have updated ourselves on our lives. He sent me an e-mail to let me know how well his exams were going and asked me what he should do after graduation. I wrote by e-mail that I had a Masters degree and was planning to become a writer. He said that I should definitely come to Mumbai one day and offered to be my guide.

The last e-mail I received from him brought us to the Circle:

"Do you know what? … The iPhone was stolen again in a taxi.

Whoever got it never wrote to him.

This article was originally published by Erica Buist on medium Erica is a freelance writer and freelance journalist who is currently traveling to Death Penitents and writing about it Book This Party's Dead.

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