An email purporting to be from Apple alerting users to a billing problem is, in fact, a phishing scam that's targeting users of Apple's online service.

The email, forwarded to Macworld US by a reader, looks like an official communication from Apple regarding MobileMe, the company's subscription service that provides users with a personal email address, web hosting, file sharing capabilities, and online data synchronisation between Macs, iPhones, and other devices. The email states: "We were unable to process your most recent payment. Did you recently change your bank, phone number or credit card?"

Users are then invited to click on a link to enter that information - but that link opens a web page in your browser that does not appear to be affiliated with Apple or MobileMe (the other links in the email do point to pages on Apple's official website).

A check of the link information reveals that it is registered to a personal Gmail account originating in Romania. It is unknown at this time if this is the person who sent the email, or if their identity had been 'spoofed' by the phisher.

This phishing email message tries to get personal information from Apple's MobileMe users. This isn't the first instance where a phisher has tried using an Apple-run service to trick users. In May, iTunes Store users began receiving email that appeared to be from Apple's iTunes Store, suggesting that they must correct an apparent credit-card problem. The phony page users were directed to asked for a credit-card number and other personal information that, once revealed, could be easily exploited by malicious users looking to commit identity theft.

See also:

Jobs admits failure with MobileMe launch

MobileMe users demand money back