Feds Bust Celebrity Nude-Photo Hacker

Jennifer Lawrence
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Pennsylvania man pleads guilty to charges related to theft of photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande and others

Federal prosecutors charged a Pennsylvania man with felony computer hacking related to the theft of hundreds of nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, Kate Upton and other female celebrities.

Ryan Collins, 36, of Lancaster, Pa., signed a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, officials said Tuesday. Collins gained illegal access to at least 50 Apple iCloud accounts and 72 Google Gmail accounts, most belonging to Hollywood celebs, they said.

Collins could face up to five years in prison. Prosecutors said they will recommend he serve a term of only 18 months in exchange for a guilty plea but that the recommendation will not be binding on the sentencing judge.

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In August 2014, nude photos of about 100 celebrities were posted online, including those from private accounts of “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Kirsten Dunst, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Rihanna, Lea Michele and Hillary Duff.

However, according to officials, investigators have not discovered evidence that Collins shared or uploaded the photos he purloined.

“By illegally accessing intimate details of his victims’ personal lives, Mr. Collins violated their privacy and left many to contend with lasting emotional distress, embarrassment and feelings of insecurity,” David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s L.A. field office, said in a statement. “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.”

According to U.S. officials, between November 2012 and September 2014, Collins engaged in a “phishing” scheme to obtain usernames and passwords for his victims using emails that appeared to be from Apple or Google asking for usernames and passwords. In some instances, Collins downloaded the entire contents of the victims’ Apple iCloud backups, according to prosecutors.

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  1. Where's Waldo? says:

    Jenn has always been lovely and people want to exploit her for it! Like the most infamous Kate Upton.
    But you see, J. Law is not marriage material! She’s not like Breanne Larson who yearns for children, motherhood and a husband! While other women are looking for the next BIG HUNK ‘O MAN MEAT. Bre is quietly seeking Mr. Wright! Poor J. Law will only get into more scandals because she’s a HOT ROD full of N02. But the poor girl needs to calm down and learn from Bre. Faster isn’t always better!

  2. Jar Jar Box-Office says:

    It doesn’t help that the authorities use soft language like this even when prosecuting a felon:

    “By illegally accessing intimate details of his victims’ personal lives, Mr. Collins violated their privacy and left many to contend with lasting emotional distress, embarrassment and feelings of insecurity,”

    He HACKED INTO PRIVATE ACCOUNTS AND *STOLE* PERSONAL PROPERTY. It’s the same as breaking into someone’s home and stealing their credit cards, family photos and bank account records. If that was the case, would it still be characterized as “violating their privacy” and causing “feelings of insecurity?”

    I wonder how these judges and agents would characterize it if this guy stole their own bedroom photos?

    • Clive says:

      Actually it’s very different. The way he obtained the access to the accounts is more easily equated to a car thief posing as a valet. He pretended to be someone he wasn’t and they handed over the account information. He took advantage of people who don’t follow basic safety protocols of the services they are using.

      Still bad, but not breaking into their house bad.There is no real federal law against phishing, some states have them but that is why they are willing to plea down to 18 months on such a public case.

      • Shandy says:

        Have to basically agree… It’s a terrible thing to do, tricking someone into giving you access to their private property (even if it’s virtual)–but sliiightly different from just barging in and taking. You’re counting on the victim making the mistake of neglecting to check the validity of your claim to be with Apple/Google/whatever. Just because they made a preventable mistake in trusting this guy, should his punishment for theft be reduced? Personally I don’t really think so…

      • Jar Jar Box-Office says:

        So if a thief stole your car, however he did it, and he was prosecuted, would it be because he caused you a lot of anxiety and hurt your wittle feewings, or because he STOLE YOUR CAR?

        Your logic is blaming the victim to a certain degree, even though you have no idea if they were following safety protocols or not, which doesn’t have anything to do with it, anyway. E.g., if you give your car keys to a fake valet, or leave your car door open, does that mean it’s okay to have your car stolen?

  3. Mark says:

    This guy should get 10 years minimum and not serve one day less.

    • Sky says:

      Absolutely he should definitely get a far harder sentence for what he did and probably felt no conscience at all for how much hurt he brought to all those people.

  4. justahunch says:

    It’s good he’s paying his dues, but I still have to wonder why so many of these women take nude pictures of themselves to keep on email accounts. The point?!

    • Brandon says:

      People have a right to do whatever they want in privacy. I hate to use the term “victim shaming” here, but that’s kind of what you’re doing. This guy used illegal means to break into their private accounts and steal personal information. Whether it’s private photos or bank account info, THEY are not at fault–he is.

      • Clive says:

        Technically the means he used aren’t illegal. They are hitting him with broader crimes but essentially the people involved handed him the account information. He didn’t “Hack” anything

      • Mark says:

        Well said Brandon and absolutely correct.

  5. Rex says:

    He’s a patsy for the North Koreans!

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