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How a lack of online privacy puts your assets at risk

Posted on 16 February 2021

A gang of four thieves were arrested in Milan in connection to multiple burglaries assisted by monitoring the victims' public social media accounts. 

The group examined celebrities' photos using tagged locations to find out where they lived and when they would be away from home. 

It is likely that the group surveilled their victims' social media accounts for several weeks or months in order to establish their routines, or when they would be out of the country. On top of this, it is possible they also examined the Instagram photos taken from inside their homes to identify crucial details such as access points, window type, property layout and where high net worth items may be kept. 

The burglars have been dubbed the ‘acrobat thieves’ because of their skill and agility in climbing the outsides of buildings. One of the individuals was caught on CCTV scaling a pole to enter a first-floor window. 

In December 2020, the same group of thieves were physically surveilling social media influencer, Eleonora Incardona, as she left her apartment in Milan. Incardona uploaded an Instagram video to confirm that everyone, including her dog, had left home, letting the thieves know the coast was clear. The criminal group stole designer handbags and an assortment of expensive jewellery and watches.   

Other victims included TV host Diletta Leotta and Inter Milan footballer Achraf Hakimi, with the group stealing around £132,000 worth of goods from Leotta. 

These incidents highlight the importance of maintaining privacy online and caution against documenting our lives in meticulous detail on social media. In a similar instance, American TV personality Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint in Paris in 2016 after robbers studied her Instagram profile for information. The criminals claimed to have targeted Kardashian on account of the jewellery she displayed in her photos - a quick Google search at the time revealed her diamond ring was worth $4 million. They were able to uncover details about her residence and trip itinerary from Kardashian and her friends’ social media, as well online news reports.  

In addition to burglaries, these reconnaissance tactics have been used by other threat actors, such as terrorist organisations and kidnappers. MDR Cyber's investigations team conduct privacy audits for our high net worth clients that are at risk of being targeted by these criminals. We have extensive experience of working with both private and corporate clients to review their online presence and mitigate any risks it may pose.  

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