Ryan Collins, the Pennsylvania man who pleaded guilty to a felony hacking charge earlier this year in connection with the 2014 celebrity nude photo leak known as “The Fappening”, has been sentenced to 18 months in a US federal prison, authorities announced on Thursday.
Hacking target Jennifer Lawrence. Photo: AP
According to prosecutors, the now 36-year-old Pennsylvania man used a phishing scheme to obtain the login credentials of “at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts, most of which belonged to female celebrities” over a period of almost two years.
“He sent emails to victims that appeared to be from Apple or Google and asked victims to provide their usernames and passwords,” said the Justice Department in a statement. “After illegally accessing the email accounts, Collins obtained personal information including nude photographs and videos. In some instances, Collins would use a software program to download the entire contents of the victims’ Apple iCloud backups.”
Officials say Collins ran the phishing scheme from November 2012 until September 2014, when nude photographs of female celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Avril Lavigne and Kate Upton were leaked online in an event known as “Celebgate” or “The Fappening”. Interestingly, investigators said they found no evidence Collins himself leaked the photos.
Collins faced up to five years in prison, but as part of his plea deal, prosecutors recommended he be sentenced to only 18 months.