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Man jailed for 18 months for hacking nude photos from celebrities' phones

36-year-old Ryan Collins hacked over 100 Apple and Google email accounts in 2014, including those of multiple celebrities.

pjimage (1) Jennifer Lawrence (left) and Kate Upton Source: PA

AN AMERICAN MAN has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for hacking the accounts of Hollywood stars, which led to the online release of private nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and other celebrities.

Ryan Collins, 36, was sentenced in a US District Court in Pennsylvania for a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The computer hacking charges were related to illegally accessing “over 100 Apple and Google email accounts, including those belonging to members of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles”, the US Justice Department said.

The “Celebgate” hack led to the online publication in 2014 of hundreds of nude photos of celebrities including Rihanna, Avril Lavigne and Gabrielle Union.

The statement did not refer to the victims by name, but several of the victims spoke publicly about the pictures.

In May, Collins entered a guilty plea in connection with the hack, and admitted to a “phishing” scheme to obtain passwords, in order to then get nude pictures from the victims’ cloud online storage accounts.

No evidence

However, officials said there was no evidence that Collins published the pictures online.

“Hackers violate federal law whenever they access private information stored online and in digital devices,” said Eileen Decker, US attorney for the central district of California.

Decker said that her office will hold hackers accountable “even when they do not sell or distribute the stolen data”.

By gaining illegal access to the email accounts, “Collins accessed at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts, many of which belonged to female celebrities”.

Collins would sometimes also download the entire contents of the victims’ Apple iCloud backups.

Collins also “ran a modelling scam in which he tricked his victims into sending him nude photographs”.

In September, Edward Majerczyk agreed under a deal with federal authorities to plead guilty to one felony count of unauthorised access to a protected computer in the same “Celebgate” case.

© – AFP, 2016

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