Scammers Weaponize IPhone 15 Overheating Issue To Steal Users’ Phones

Is your new iPhone part of Apple’s iPhone 15 recall? It shouldn’t be. Because there is no iPhone 15 recall.

However, scammers posing as major carriers like Verizon are using the iPhone 15’s real overheating issues to try and convince iPhone owners to send them their phones as part of a fake recall.

We know this because one of Mashable’s own reporters was recently the target of this scam.

“This sounds like a voice phishing scheme where the bad actor reaches out to a potential victim and pretends to be an IT or customer service rep from a major corporation and attempts to get information, or in this case your actual phone,” said a Verizon spokesperson in a statement provided to Mashable about this new scam. 

“To be clear, Verizon would never contact customers via phone for a recall or product issue.”

How the iPhone 15 overheating recall scam worksMashable tech reporter Cecily Mauran had received a few phone calls throughout the week from an unknown number shortly after ordering a new iPhone 15 through Verizon. The caller, claiming to be a Verizon representative, asked Mauran if her phone had been delivered yet and told her they would call again upon receipt of the phone to remotely run diagnostics that would indicate iPhone 15 overheating issues.

The device’s propensity to overheat had been widely reported since Apple’s iPhone 15 line of phone’s launch in late September.

On Thursday morning, one day after finally receiving her iPhone 15, she received another call from a person claiming to be with Verizon.

“They said the new iPhone 15s were having overheating issues and…they’d received communication from Apple that my phone was one of the defective devices,” Mauran said. “They said they needed to come and pick up my phone right away, because it was ‘dangerous’.”

The caller, claiming to be with Verizon, arranged for FedEx to come and pick up her iPhone, saying the phone company would also overnight a brand-new iPhone 15.

The whole call was very convincing because it was based on an actual flaw with the iPhone 15 that was widely reported. However, scam experts routinely stress that people should always be the one to initiate a phone call and not be on the receiving end of the call before providing any potentially sensitive personal information just to be sure it is legitimate.

So, that’s exactly what Mauran did immediately after, directly calling the number listed on Verizon’s official website.

A real Verizon representative confirmed to Mauran that the phone call she received did not come from Verizon.

By this point, the scam attempt was already in motion. A real FedEx truck did arrive, but Mauran did not provide her iPhone.

After explaining the situation, the FedEx driver provided her with the details of where her new iPhone 15 would’ve gone…and unsurprisingly it wasn’t to Verizon or Apple as part of a recall.

The scammer provided FedEx with a physical address in Miami, Florida and phone number with a Kentucky area code. The recipient was listed as “RETUNS PROCESING CENTER,” an effort from the scammer to make it seem like the iPhone 15 would be going to a legitimate Verizon location. And, yes, the words “returns” and “processing” were spelled incorrectly.

Shortly after FedEx left, Mauran received a phone call again from the scammer. They wanted to confirm the pickup. She confronted them. The caller insisted they were legitimately from Verizon and told Mauran they’d have their supervisor call her to confirm. No one has called Mauran claiming to be from Verizon since.

Don’t get scammedSo, how do you avoid these type of scams? Verizon tells Mashable to do exactly what its reporter did.

“First off, thank you so much for reaching out to Verizon customer service after ending the scam call,” the company said. “That is exactly what we recommend all our customers do if they ever receive a call or inquiry that doesn’t feel right.”

“There is no issue with your iPhone 15 that would justify any outreach from Verizon,” the Verizon spokesperson continued. “Our guidance is if someone calls you saying they’re Verizon and you’re skeptical or just not sure, hang up and call [Verizon].”

It’s unclear how successful this scam has been as it’s based on a newly launched product. It’s also unclear exactly how the scammer targeted Mauran.

The scammer knew Mauran was a Verizon customer and seemed to also be aware that she had recently ordered a new iPhone 15 which she hadn’t even received at the time of their first call. Mauran says the scammer also had an old email she previously had on file with Verizon, which provides a potential scenario where Mauran’s information was discovered through a prior Verizon customer leak.

As Mashable previously reported, of the variety of issues that the iPhone 15 faced at launch, the most prevalent was the overheating problem. However, Apple has since addressed the issue…and not with a recall, but a simple software update.

Any iPhone 15 user experiencing overheating issues should make sure they have installed the iOS 17.0.3 update. Multiple tests have shown that this software update has fixed the iPhone 15 overheating problem. So, please, don’t fall for this recall scam. Just update your iPhone.