Mystery, intrigue, nude photos, more: are Google technicians hacking Pixels mailed in for repair?
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Game designer Jane McGonigal
) had to send her Pixel 5a to get repaired, so she mailed it to Google
. Unfortunately, that turned out not to be a good choice since someone hacked into the phone. McGonigal took to her Twitter account today to disseminate a recommendation that she thought would be helpful.
Game designer tweets warning: Don't mail your phone back to Google
She wrote, "Yeah, don't send your Google phone in for warranty repair/replacement. As has happened with others, last night someone used it to log into my gmail, Drive, photos backup email account, dropbox, and I can see from activity logs they opened a bunch of selfies hoping to find nudes." She added that "the photos they opened were of me in bathing suits, sports bras, form-fitting dresses, and of stitches after surgery. They deleted Google security notifications in my backup email accounts."
Game designer Jane McGonigal shares a warning
McGonigal also posted an update a few hours later revealing that she had not heard officially from Google. She did say that through backchannels she heard that the company had started looking into the issue and had even escalated it. Apparently, she is not the only Pixel owner to experience this situation.
Jane found that a similar incident happened to a Reddit user who had to send his wife's Pixel back to Google after it wouldn't turn on. Similar to McGonigal's phone, the Reddit poster couldn't turn his wife's phone on and as a result, neither device could not be wiped (or factory reset as they say in certain high-class places) before being sent to Google as the company recommends. The phone was mailed to the same Google address in Texas that McGonigal sent her Pixel to.
The Reddit post, since deleted, mentioned how the phone was fixed but was used to send nude photos of the man and his wife to her social media sites. The hacker broke into her Google account and tried to lock out his wife. The attack continued as the wife's PayPal account was accessed and $5 was sent to some unknown person (which was probably a test as the husband pointed out in his post).
As we said, the phone was shipped for repairs to the same address in Texas that McGonigal used to send her phone to Google. The victimized couple found unexplained logins on Facebook and Instagram from Texas, and the last ping came from the same building where the phone was shipped. Does that sound like a coincidence to anyone?
The husband said that when he called Google, they told him something along the lines of "woah, that's f****d up." So the man filed a police report but closed out his post by saying, "What are my options here for suing Google. I know that sounds insane but this breach of trust and privacy is egregious. Hundreds of people have now seen my penis including our friends' kids..."
Apple pays a multi-million amount after technicians hacked into an iPhone and posted nude images found on the phone
So what seems to have occurred here, and this is just speculation, is that the two devices were repaired at Google's facilities and since they could not be wiped, someone took the opportunity to hack into the phones. In the states, Google has a partnership with uBreakiFix. If you need your Pixel repaired, you might want to see if there is a franchise open near you.
Protect your new Google Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro
Meanwhile, this past June, Apple
was ordered to pay a woman a "multi-million dollar sum" after she was victimized in a similar manner as McGonigal and the husband and wife were. This incident took place in 2016 when a 21-year old student brought his iPhone in for repair at a Pegatron facility in Sacramento, California. Pegatron, as you might know, is one of the contract manufacturers that build Apple products including the iPhone.
The student leaves the phone with two technicians who post "10 photos of her in various stages of undress, and a sex video" to her personal Facebook account. Five years later, Apple paid for the indiscretion by writing a nice-sized check.