The hacker who infiltrated the iCloud accounts of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Gabrielle Union and dozens of other female celebrities — leading a massive leak of nude photographs — has pleaded guilty to charges of felony computer hacking, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Ryan Collins faces up to five years in federal prison for his role in “Celebgate,” or as it’s known in certain corners of the Internet, “The Fappening” (a reference to a slang term for male masturbation). According to a statement issued by the United States Attorney’s Office in California, however, prosecutors will recommend Collins receive 18 months.
Collins officially pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information. As such, he’s only being charged for his role in hacking at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts, most of which belonged to female celebrities. The FBI investigation found no evidence that Collins leaked, shared or uploaded the photos or information he accessed.
Per the statement, Collins began phishing for account information in November 2012. He sent e-mails to victims that looked like notices from Apple or Google, and was able to access their accounts and personal information when they responded. In some cases, he also downloaded entire Apple iCloud backups.
“We continue to see both celebrities and victims from all walks of life suffer the consequences of this crime and strongly encourage users of Internet-connected devices to strengthen passwords and to be skeptical when replying to emails asking for personal information,” said David Bowdich, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
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Several of the victims also spoke out against the attack, including Lawrence who told Vanity Fair, “It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change.”