Second ‘Celebgate’ Hacker Pleads Guilty

Second ‘Celebgate’ Hacker Pleads Guilty

A second man has pleaded guilty to illegally accessing hundreds of iCloud and Gmail accounts including many belonging to big-name Hollywood celebrities.

Edward Majerczyk, 28, who lives in Chicago and Orland Park, signed a plea agreement in return for a lenient sentence, confessing to one count of “unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information” under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

He sent classic phishing emails spoofed to come from the victims’ ‘internet service providers’ which ultimately gave him access to their Gmail and iCloud accounts, according to the Department of Justice. He then trawled these accounts for personal information including private photos and videos.

Majerczyk is said to have accessed a whopping 300 accounts from November 2013 to August 2014, around 30 of which belonged to celebrities.

“This defendant not only hacked into e-mail accounts – he hacked into his victims’ private lives, causing embarrassment and lasting harm,” said Deirdre Fike, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.

“As most of us use devices containing private information, cases like this remind us to protect our data. Members of society whose information is in demand can be even more vulnerable, and directly targeted.”

Although he still faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, Majerczyk will be hoping for something more like the sentence handed down to 36-year-old Pennsylvania man Ryan Collins.

He got a term of 18 months after pleading guilty to a similar phishing scheme in March, although his activities appear to have been more limited – apparently restricted to around 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts.

Like the Collins case, Majerczyk was caught thanks to an FBI investigation into the so-called “Celebgate” leaks. However, no evidence has been uncovered linking either man to the actual publication or dissemination of the photos online.  

Source: Information Security Magazine