A 36-year-old Pennsylvania man has admitted to hacking female celebrities’ phones and email accounts to steal nude photographs and videos, federal prosecutors say.
Widely known as The Fappening, in 2014 Ryan Collins gained access to dozens of nude photos and videos of celebrities, including Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence, and a 100 others and released them on Reddit, 4-Chan and social media.
“Today, people store important private information in their online accounts and in their digital devices,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said in a statement. “Lawless unauthorized access to such private information is a criminal offense. My Office remains committed to protecting sensitive and personal information from the malicious actions of sophisticated hackers and cyber criminals.”
Prosecutors said in court documents that Ryan Collins used a phishing scheme to obtain usernames and passwords from the victims and then illegally accessed their accounts using that information.
How’d he get the photos?
According to prosecutors, Collins sent emails to the victims that appeared to be from Apple or Google. In the emails, Collins asked the victims to give their passwords and usernames. The victims would give their information and Collins then logged into their accounts.
“After illegally accessing the e-mail accounts, Collins obtained personal information including nude photographs and videos, according to his plea agreement,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “In some instances, Collins would use a software program to download the entire contents of the victims’ Apple iCloud backups.”
Collins had access to 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts using his scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The hacks occurred between November 2012 and September 2014.
Keep in mind that this isn’t the first time we’ve written about something like this. Last month, a reporter at Fusion dared a hacker to steal his identity. Using the same “fake looking email to get info” scheme, the hacker gained access to the reporter’s entire digital life, include bank passwords, email passwords, and social security numbers.
Who is Ryan Collins?
According to his Facebook page, Collins graduated from Jame Madison University in ’03 with a degree in integrated science and technology. during the phishing scheme he was a creative project manager for a marketing company.
However, although Collins has already pleaded guilty to hacking the photos, it hasn’t been proven that he was the one who leaked the photos.
Collins faces up to 5 years in prison but it’s looking like he’ll get 18 months, which is what prosecutors recommend.
You can read the entire plea deal here.