In Fall of 2014 the Internet broke because of leaked nude celebrity photos - known as the "Fappening."
Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Anna Kendrick and Kelly Cuoco are just some of the celebrities that fell victim to a hacker stealing their private photos from Apple iCloud and Google mail. The internet got swamped with nude photos from mostly female celebrities. The private photos have been released in waves on 4chan and other sites causing a controversy about what can be posted online without censorship.
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Now the hacker behind the so-called "fappening" or "Celebgate" has been charged. 36-year-old Ryan Collins, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was charged with felony computer hacking related to a phishing scheme that gave him illegal access to over 100 Apple and Google e-mail accounts.
Collins has signed a plea agreement and agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. In the plea agreement also filed today, Collins agreed to plead guilty to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information. The parties have agreed to recommend a prison term of 18 months, but that recommendation will not be binding on the sentencing judge.
“Today, people store important private information in their online accounts and in their digital devices,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “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.”
Ryan Collins sent emails to celebrities from November 2012 until the beginning of September 2014 to trick them into giving him their login details. The phishing scheme has apparently worked very well and many celebs fell for the fake Apple and Google emails. Collins obtained personal information including nude photographs and videos, according to his plea agreement. In some instances, Collins would use a software program to download the entire contents of the victims’ Apple iCloud backups.
Collins accessed at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts, most of which belonged to female celebrities. Investigators have though not found any evidence that Collins shared or uploaded the nude photos online.
The press-release issued by the US Attorney's Office of the Central District of California makes no comment about who or how the nude photos ended up online on notorious sites like 4chan or reddit. The FBI investigations are though still ongoing.
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The take away from this is, never give anybody your login details. Apple, Google and Banks will never ask you in an email to send them your login details.