A Pennsylvania man will be going away for 18 months for phishing and hacking into Apple and Gmail accounts of celebrities.
Ryan Collins received the sentence in federal court after his guilty plea in May to a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information.
Collins, a 36-year-old married father of two from Lancaster, PA, conducted a two-year raid that had netted him more than 100 logins to his victims’ Gmail and Apple email accounts, said Pennsylvania U.S. attorney Bruce Brandler.
He pulled it off by sending emails to victims that were spoofed to look like they came from Apple or Google and which asked victims to provide their usernames and passwords.
With the logins in hand, Collins ransacked the accounts, grabbing personal information that included nude photos and videos.
That’s a lot of work, shaking out the contents of all those people’s email accounts. That’s probably why Collins sometimes set up an automated process: He used an application to systematically scoop up victims’ entire Apple iCloud backups.
Collins had another scam going in which he said he was from a modeling agency and he tricked victims into sending him nude photographs, Brandler said.
Investigators identified more than 600 victims. Collins broke into at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts, many of them belonging to female celebrities.
The case against Collins stems from the investigation into the leaks of photographs of numerous female celebrities in September 2014, known as “Celebgate”.
Investigators didn’t find any evidence specifically connecting Collins to Celebgate.
The incident did, however, lead to an investigation that led to his prosecution.