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Family's Verizon account hacked, suspect purchased iPhones, Apple Watches

Family's Verizon account hacked, suspect purchased iPhones, Apple Watches
Family's Verizon account hacked, suspect purchased iPhones, Apple Watches 02:26

BOSTON - Laura Roppolo and her husband, Eric, were on vacation last month when they received an email receipt stating they had paid their monthly bill. The trouble is, that receipt came two weeks ahead of their scheduled payment and referenced a card number they did not recognize. It was just the first sign of many that would end up with their accounts being hacked and thousands of dollars of devices bought under their name.

"It's been quite a mess actually," said Laura Roppolo. The mother of five lives in Holland, Massachusetts but said a week after they returned from their trip, they got an email saying new iPhones and Apple Watches had been purchased at two Verizon stores. One in Danvers, the other in Malden. Two towns this family said they had never been to.

The family was forced to scramble to secure their accounts.

"For a good eight days we did not have access to our bank accounts," said Roppolo. "Our direct deposits were interrupted. It was a mess."

The two stores are owned by Russell Cellular, an authorized Verizon retailer. Russell Cellular could not be reached for this report.

Verizon Wireless told WBZ-TV there is a two-step process employees take before purchases can be made. Customers must present a government issued ID and complete a second verification step, like providing a PIN.

In the case of the Roppolo account, a spokesperson for Verizon told WBZ-TV it appeared the employees in the stores followed that process.

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Police said it is likely the suspect in this case used a fake ID, but it remains unclear how the man knew the family's PIN.

"Was there a breach at Verizon? Is there some other means this person is getting our information? How did this happen so this does not happen to somebody else?" said Roppolo. "If we keep letting this happen and we don't go after the bigger reason it's going to keep happening."

Malden Police said they had worked and found a man had visited both stores in the timeframe of the fraudulent purchases. They are currently working to identify the man in security camera footage.

"People are able to obtain sensitive information through a course or a series of events," said Malden Police Lt. Michael Powell. "That could be phishing through mail or listening to a phone conversation. It appears at least some of those protocols were followed meaning, some sort of identification was presented."

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