Edward Majerczyk, a 28-year-old from Chicago, pleaded guilty to hacking the Apple iCloud and Gmail accounts of over 300 people, including celebrities from the entertainment industry, the Department of Justice, Central District of California, said Friday.
The man violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by launching phishing schemes between November 2013 and August 2014 to steal usernames and passwords. His strategy was to send fake emails in the name of internet providers and get users to visit a website that stole their photos and videos. Majerczyk faces up to five years in federal prison.
This defendant not only hacked into e-mail accounts – he hacked into his victims’ private lives, causing embarrassment and lasting harm, said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. As most of us use devices containing private information, cases like this remind us to protect our data. Members of society whose information is in demand can be even more vulnerable, and directly targeted.
The hacker is also under investigation in relation to the Celebgate scandal from 2014 when several personal photographs of female celebrities were leaked from their iCloud accounts. A 36- year-old from Pennsylvania, Ryan Collins, also pleaded guilty in March to sending fake emails in the name of Apple or Google to steal users’ personal information.
However, there is currently no evidence to confirm these allegations against the two hackers.