It was a sense of foreboding that prompted Gloria Fuentes to delete several apps from her phone ahead of an Apple store appointment last week in Bakersfield, California.
Fuentes scrubbed her device of all social media, financial and banking apps before getting her screen repaired Nov. 4 – and intended to delete all of her photos, too – but she ran out of time. Upon arriving, she handed her phone to an employee who began “messing around with it for quite a while,” she wrote on Facebook the next day.
“I didn’t really pay any mind to it because I just figured he’s doing his job, looking into my insurance info or whatever,” she wrote. “He asked for my passcode TWICE in that time frame which I, at the time, didn’t think anything of.”
It turns out Fuentes’s initial concerns were legitimate. When she got home, Fuentes turned on her phone and noticed a text that had been sent to an unknown number, she wrote. She said the Apple employee had gone through her device, retrieved a private photo and texted it to himself.
The picture in question was taken more than a year ago, she added.
“I open [the text] and instantly wanted to cry!!!” she wrote. “This guy went through my gallery and sent himself one of my EXTREMELY PERSONAL pictures that I took for my boyfriend and it had my geolocation on so he also knows where I live!!!”
Fuentes said she went back to the store and spoke with the store’s manager, who said he would “look into it.” She also confronted that the employee, who she said admitted that the number was his but said he wasn’t sure how the photo was sent.
In an email, Apple told The Washington Post “we are grateful to the customer for bringing this deeply concerning situation to our attention. Apple immediately launched an internal investigation and determined that the employee acted far outside the strict privacy guidelines to which we hold all Apple employees. He is no longer associated with our company.”
As Mashable noted last week, this incident is not completely isolated. Last month, a 24-year-old Verizon employee in Park City, Utah, was arrested for “computer crimes” – a third-degree felony – after texting himself “several nude photos” from a customer’s camera roll. The unnamed victim was there to upgrade her iPhone, ABC4 reported.
Then there was the 2016 incident in Brisbane, Australia, where several Apple store employees were fired following allegations they had taken candid photos of female staff and customers and stolen other photos from patrons’ phones. These staff members allegedly shared the photos with one another and ranked the women’s bodies. Citing an investigation at the time, Apple said they had terminated a number of employees but found “no evidence that customer data or photos were inappropriately transferred or that anyone was photographed by these former employees.”
Fuentes did not return a Tuesday afternoon message requesting further comment on her story but vowed in her post to press charges against the employee. The Bakersfield Police Department confirmed Tuesday that it was investigating the incident.