back to article Pablo Escobar's big bro and former accountant sues Apple for $2.6bn over FaceTime bug

The older brother of dead Colombian cocaine warlord Pablo Escobar is suing Apple for a whopping $2.6bn over a security vulnerability that allegedly allowed miscreants to access his location via his iPhone X handset. The bizarre lawsuit [PDF] filed at the San Mateo Superior Court in Silicon Valley this week claims that a known …

  1. Ian 3

    Special accountants rounding?

    $100,000 to devote ... Apple's negligent misrepresentation... another $500,000 in damages. Finally, the emotional and physical toll exerted on the former gangland bean counter also has a price of, erm, $2bn.

    So 2bn + 600,000 = 2.6bn? Rounding that 0.6m to 0.6bn? Is that just how Columbian accountants roll?


      Re: Special accountants rounding?

      looks better then $2.0006Bn?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Special accountants rounding?

      Look at the market cap and acquisitions of some US companies and realise that these guys are rank amateurs. They wouldn't even have got a job on the HP Autonomy takeover.

    3. Kane Silver badge

      Re: Special accountants rounding?

      "Is that just how Columbian accountants roll?"

      No, they snort.

    4. Maelstorm Bronze badge

      Re: Special accountants rounding?

      Actually no.

      Here's how Escobar did the maths: The breach of contract itself has cost Escobar $100m to devote extra time and money to protect himself and his family after his location was accessed by miscreants. Apple's negligent misrepresentation of its product drove him to relocate, so that's another $500m in damages. Finally, the emotional and physical toll exerted on the former gangland bean counter also has a price of, erm, $2bn.

      So it's 100m + 500m + 2b = 2.6b.

    5. D-Coder

      Re: Special accountants rounding?

      Maybe it's in pesos? Or yen?

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Escobars phone is a scam

    Can't someone sue him for $2.6B?

    It seems that he really needs the publicity to prop up his fake business.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "and he will present the proofs to the court if needed"

    Well, if you're claiming 2.6B, it's indeed likely the judge will ask for this, yes.

    Quite retarded lawsuit actually ...

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: likely

      Will he present those in person? If not, can't Apple just call him as a witness?

      It's election year. There's no way this guy can turn up to a court in Silicon Valley without a long queue of people forming to take a (legal) pot-shot at him "while he's here".

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: likely

      This has to be slightly vague because it would identify me easily.

      A company I worked for received a letter about a product that was described as defective. It wasn't defective the customer had chosen some incompatible options (and some personalisation) and then complained that they didn't work well together if at all. As a goodwill gesture we wrote back and offered to replace the components of the purchase that didn't work, at their expense. We would take off the cost of the initial components from the cost of the new ones if they returned them. This was basically a minor cost to them because the stuff was bespoke and had been personalised so technically it was their problem not ours.

      This obviously wasn't to the liking of the customer who said in the next letter they wanted their money back. All the correspondence was passed on to the legal bod who just said to ignore it. Another week another letter this one from a lawyer stating in the first paragraph:

      1. That the product was not fit for the purpose for which it was sold.

      2. That we had not contacted his client even after him repeatedly contacting us.

      3. We had not offered restitution.

      The second paragraph started with something like:

      "All the attempts at restitution that you made whilst in contact with my client have proved inadequate"

      He went on to explain that it would go to Money Claim OnLine (the new version of the small claims court) unless all the money was refunded by a certain number of days after the date of the letter. As all the letters including ours were sent registered post his dating the letter a few days earlier than posting was pointless.

      The lawyer had obviously overlooked the fact that he'dcontradicted himself in the same letter over the "facts". We had made no attempts to contact/restitution in the first paragraph and lots in the second. Our legal bod laughed out loud when he read it and agreed it was bollocks. He sent one back to the lawyer explaining that he'd be quite happy to go to court.

      He explained that we had email chains where it was explained (in language even Donald Trump could understand) that the purchase was unwise. The customer was putting together incompatible bits and having things personalised. That the customer had responded that they understood and wished to continue knowing all this. That it stated quite clearly in our T&C's that if you personalise anything you can't return it subject to applicable laws on defective products. He also pointed out the contradiction in the letter the lawyer had written. He also said the goodwill gesture was withdrawn given the threat of court.

      We heard nothing more about it. The legal bod said he suspected the lawyer hadn't been given all the facts. He said it still didn't explain the contradiction in the letter which was probably down to the lawyer being crap.

  4. Mike Moyle

    "Apple -- It Just Narks."

    Sorry... Couldn't resist!

    OTOH: "The reseller apparently assured him that the "iPhone simply cannot be exploited and will never be vulnerable to future exploits"."

    So shouldn't he be suing the RESELLER...? Or do they not have enough cash on hand to make it worth his lawyer's time?

  5. harmjschoonhoven

    Roberto Escobar

    should have done what Pablo Escobar when he had a new home built.

    Include a secret chamber in it and keep it secret by murdering all the labourers who worked on it.

  6. anthonyhegedus

    What a load of garbage. It's all hinging on "The report also claimed that he paid for additional security features to ensure his phone was not susceptible to attacks."

    It's clearly untruths on top of untruths as there's no such thing. Not for $100,000 anyway.

    In any case, surely he should sue the people making death threats to him. Or is that too dangerous?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not for $100,000 anyway.

      Oh, I don't know, I'm sure I could stop it being susceptible to attacks for $100K.

      Removing the battery normally works quite well

  7. macjules Silver badge

    “Bring me the head of Timothy Cook”

    [Escobar] has hired a technical specialist that made that determination

  8. RainCaster

    Do legal miscreants get to abuse our justice system?

    It seems so, though I shake my head about the fairness of that.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a hitman, I wouldn't write you a letter first - kinda gives the game away doesn't it?

    1. Tigra 07

      Dear Mr Escobar

      I plan to kill you and thought it polite to tell you in advance, as this might otherwise come as a shock to you.

      Please don't change your travel plans suddenly in the near future.

      Best regards

      Mr Killer (Anonymous, with no return address, for obvious reasons)

      1. anthonyhegedus

        slightly revised to help boslter Mr Escobar's ridiculous story:

        "Dear Mr Escobar

        I found your address through various facetime calls to your phone. Thanks for answering and showing me the nearby scenery, your front door and telling me your address anyway..."

  10. Chairman of the Bored

    So you blow 100k on "added security"...

    ...and effen install FaceTime? Are you kidding me?

    Someone needs to stop using his own product!

  11. WolfFan Silver badge

    Anyone can file

    A lawsuit. Actually avoiding getting laughed out of court is somewhat more difficult.

  12. andy 103

    the most secure phone on the planet

    Escobar said he even directly called Apple support staff, who confirmed that the iPhone X was indeed the most secure phone on the planet

    I highly doubt anyone would claim that. It's a mass produced phone, sold to millions of people.

    That's a bit like saying The Bank of England use a safe from Argos.

    It's very likely that intelligence agencies and government organisations have hardware that isn't available - or known to - the general public. Which of course makes any claim about a consumer-grade phone being "the most secure" total bullshit.

  13. Tigra 07

    "iPhone simply cannot be exploited and will never be vulnerable to future exploits"

    Yep, that certainly sounds like something the average apple customer believes. Meanwhile, in the real world...

  14. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Poor fella.

    One's sympathy is all that it should be.

  15. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Apple failed to provide a phone free of exploits"

    Um, I don't think Apple has ever declared that any of its models were "free of exploits", so that allegation is spurious and will be thrown out.

    And concerning the $100K he supposedly plunked down to secure the phone, I do wonder what on Earth he could possibly have acquired for that sum that would be any good to secure a phone. Encryption is not that expensive.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: "Apple failed to provide a phone free of exploits"

      I can secure any phone for $100K. I just can't guarantee you'll be able to use it afterwards.

      (I just don't understand why so many people don't understand that mobile phones have to tell the infrastructure who they and where they are. Its fundamental to how they work. All you need to do to track anyone is associate the device's uniue IMEI number with a person. Various techniques are used to obscure this for day to day phone operations but when you're dealing with a state (or someone with very large amounts of money) then you have to assume that IMEIs are going to be both known and tracked.)

      (Even if the IMEI sn't known or visible you're probably vulnerable to tracking by the 'fingerprint' of the phone's various applications and how you interact with them. It just depends on how much you're worth to the tracker.)

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: "Apple failed to provide a phone free of exploits"

        IMEI is the hardware address of the phone, and it's not often used in the network, but the SIM address is the IMSI and that's what you'd want to track. Both are known in the network and with Legal Intercept I'm sure you can put a trace on either and find out where they are.

        Might be harder to track via applications - sure could fingerprint the device apps, but that doesn't get you the device location unless they click the "allow access to location" button on a website (how dumb could they be?)

      2. D-Coder

        Re: "Apple failed to provide a phone free of exploits"

        > I can secure any phone for $100K. I just can't guarantee you'll be able to use it afterwards.

        I can secure it for a mere $10K. I'll even provide the hammer.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The vulnerability allegedly leaked his location, making him a target for hitmen"

    Some other reasons might have made him a target. The vulnerability just helped them aim at the target.

  17. Not Enough Coffee

    Shouldn't the lawyers expand this to a class action so all of the drug warlord families are included?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Including the Sacklers? They could use a few bob.

  18. Maelstorm Bronze badge

    The reseller apparently assured him that the "iPhone simply cannot be exploited and will never be vulnerable to future exploits".

    Damnit, I sprayed my drink when I read that. No software is bug free. Hell, even Hello World might have bugs in it if the underlying libraries have bugs. Nothing done by man is ever perfect. So the reseller lied to him. He should file the case against the reseller instead of Apple.

    As for why people are after him, it's most likely revenge. Pablo Escobar was a really bad guy and ordered many people to be murdered. It's not surprising that one or more family members of his victims are looking for payback by taking their vengeance out on his family members. You can only kill someone once.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Bug-free software exists, for the same reason that mathematical proofs exit. Of course, if you can produce mathematical proofs, they tend to "give" you a PhD. And in my experience, bug-free code is harder than most theorems. (I was accepted into the PhD program in mathematics, and work as a programmer.)

      But they are not cheap. That's the real problem. No one wants to pay for bug-free software.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's certainly possible to write bug free code, usually flashed onto small microcontrollers doing embedded jobs without external connections to anything but local I/O. But few things nowadays use something as simple as, say, a CDP 1802 or a 6502 which with a little effort you can understand down to the gate level.

        Producing bug free code when you have to work in conjunction with other software is a very different marmite de poissons. And in any practical computer system of any complexity, your bug free code is being interpreted, even if only at microcode level, so proving what actually gets compiled and run is bug free is impossible.

        I'm not competent to discuss Gödel's incompleteness theorems, so I won't.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Good. Because I am. ;) Godel's work is about proving the consistency of an axiom system. He demonstrates that once a system is sufficiently rich, it can only be proven consistent by a system which is even more rich--a disappointing result.

          But irrelevant to a surprisingly large set of cases. In particular, you have to get into situations where code is "reasoning" about the behavior of other code to be concerned. And lots & lots of applications never come close to such a requirement.

  19. PhilipN Silver badge

    Spokesperson told The Reg?

    Wow. After cosying up to Apple you are really doing the rounds.

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