The hacker who stole dozens of private nude photos from celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, before they were leaked online in what became known as “The Fappening” or “Celebgate” has been sentenced to 18-months in a U.S. federal prison.
In May, 36-year-old Ryan Collins, from Lancaster, Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information. Collins used phishing scams to trick celebrities into handing over their usernames and passwords by sending fake emails that appeared to be from Google and Apple.
“After illegally accessing the e-mail 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,” Pennsylvania U.S. attorney Bruce Brandler said in a statement. “Collins ran a modeling scam in which he tricked his victims into sending him nude photographs.”
Collins is believed to have accessed at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts during his scam.
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The nude photos first made their way around the web in September 2014. The photos of famous females nude and, in some cases, in sexual situations, were posted to the image sharing website 4chan and quickly spread on social media.
Among those whose private pics went public were Lawrence, Upton and stars like Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Becca Tobin and Kristen Dunst. Several of women involved in the scandal denounced the hack as a flagrant violation of privacy.
“It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting,” Lawrence said at the time. “Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it.”
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Although Collins was charged for accessing the accounts, Brandler noted that investigators have not uncovered any evidence linking him to the actual leaks, or proving that he uploaded the information he obtained.
The hack caused Apple to implement more security measure to protect iCloud users, including an alert system that notifies users when a device logs into an iCloud account for the first time.