A second man has pleaded guilty for his role in ‘The Fappening’ breach of 2014, in which the Internet was flooded with thousands of nude photographs of popular celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian, Kate Upton and Kirsten Dunst.
Edward Majerczyk (28) of Chicago, Illinois agreed to plead guilty last Friday to hacking into the Apple iCloud and Gmail accounts of more than 300 victims, including 30 celebrities, between November 2013 and August 2014, federal prosecutors said.
Like Ryan Collins, Majerczyk used phishing scheme to trick celebrities into entering their account credentials into bogus ‘security’ sites and then accessed private and nude photographs and videos of celebrities.
The hackers then leaked hundreds of thousands of explicit photos of Hollywood actresses on the Internet in September 2014 that later known as The Fappening (or ‘Celebgate’) breach.
"This defendant not only hacked into email accounts — he hacked into his victims’ private lives, causing embarrassment and lasting harm," FBI’s Deirdre Fike said in a statement. "As most of us use devices containing private information, cases like this remind us to protect our data."
Here’s How The Fappening Happened:
In October of 2014, the FBI raided the house of Majerczyk and said that he registered a series of bogus email accounts like ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, similar to Apple’s official email@example.com account.
Majerczyk then used this fake email address to send spear-phishing emails to several celebrities, tricking them into providing him with their account credentials.
According to the authorities, the suspect accessed 330 accounts over 600 different occasions from November 23, 2013, through August 2014.
Majerczyk faces a maximum of 5 years in prison for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Similar charges were also brought a few months ago against a 36-year-old Pennsylvania man, Ryan Collins, who pleaded guilty in March to the same offense in a case stemming from the same investigation.
According to the FBI, Collins accessed at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts, most of which belonged to female celebrities.
However, prosecutors said that authorities have no evidence linking Majerczyk or Collins to the actual leak. Also, there is no reference in the Department of Justice (DoJ) statement that suggests they worked together.
Federal prosecutors charged Majercyzk in Los Angeles, but his case will be transferred to Illinois for the entering of the plea agreement and sentencing, which are expected to be held after few weeks.
Collins has also not yet been sentenced, though he agreed to a recommended prison term of 18 months.