A Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to the prison for hacking more than 100 Apple and Gmail accounts, including the accounts of some celebrities, officials reported on Thursday.
Ryan Collins, 36-years old man from Lancaster, Pennsylvania was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by the United States District Court Judge William W. He was taken into custody immediately after the judge’s decision.
Collins was guilty of unauthorized access to other computers to obtain information from it.
He was originally charged in Los Angeles, but it later agreed to transfer his case to Harrisburg in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, near Collins’ home, for the entry of his guilty plea and sentencing.
The case against Collins stems from the investigation into the leaks of photographs of numerous female celebrities in September 2014, known as “Celebgate.” Investigators have not uncovered any evidence linking Collins to the actual leaks or that Collins shared or uploaded the information he obtained, however.
Collins was engaged in a ‘phishing scheme’ to get usernames and password of the victims. He sent e-mails to the people, appeared to be from Apple or Google and asked victims to provide their username and password.
In the investigation, it is identified that over 600 victims, many of whom were members of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. By illegally accessing the e-mail accounts, Collins accessed at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts, many of which belonged to female celebrities.
What followed became known as Celebgate or “The Fappening,” in which private photographs from celebrities, including actress Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton, were leaked online in September 2014. However, investigators have not found any evidence that tied Collins to the actual leaks.
The case against Ryan Collins was investigated by FBI agents based in Los Angeles, and the plea agreement was negotiated by Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan White and Vicki Chou in the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.