“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 to Facebook. “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. The message’s contents were even more harrowing: Fuentes alleged that the Apple employee had gone through her photos, retrieved a private picture 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 the employee, who she said admitted the number was his but claimed he wasn’t sure how the photo was sent.
In an emailed statement, 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 isolated. Last month, a 24-year-old Verizon store employee in Park City, Utah, was arrested on suspicion of a third-degree felony after texting himself “several nude photos” from a customer’s camera roll. The unidentified victim was there to upgrade her iPhone 5 to an iPhone 8, ABC4 reported.
Then there was the 2016 incident in Brisbane, Australia, in which several Apple store employees were fired following allegations they had taken candid photos of female staff members and customers and stolen other photos from patrons’ phones. These staff members reportedly shared the photos with one another and ranked the women’s bodies. Citing an investigation at the time, Apple said it 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 to press charges against the employee in her post. The Bakersfield Police Department confirmed Tuesday that it was continuing to investigate.
“I’m sharing this because iPhones are like a must have for teens now and I could just imagine that I’m not the only person he’s done this to,” Fuentes wrote. “What if he’s done this to someone’s teenager daughter or even any other woman at all!! I have no idea if he sent more than the picture that he forgot to delete and I have NO CLUE WTH HE’S GOING TO DO WITH THEM!!!”
There are several apps that allow the owner to protect photos with a unique passcode, including Private Photo Vault (iOS and Android).