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‘Celebgate’ hacker sentenced to 18 months in prison

Oscar http://www.flickr.com/photos/adarshupadhyay/5330266850/ Adarsh Upadhyay / Flickr

Ryan Collins, one of the people behind the 2014 "Celebgate" photo leak, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. Earlier this year, Collins pled guilty to carrying out a long-running phishing campaign that gave him access to dozens of private email and iCloud accounts, including those of many female celebrities, some of whom had nude photos leaked as a result of the breach.

Collins was convicted of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and faced up to five years in prison, although prosecutors recommended 18 months as part of a plea bargain. According to the Justice Department, he sent his targets emails purporting to come from Apple or Google, asking them to give up their passwords. Over the course of two years, from 2012 to 2014, he got access to at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts, "many of which belonged to female celebrities." The statement also says that Collins ran a fake modeling scam to trick victims into sending nude photos. Notably, the Justice Department has found no evidence that Collins is behind the mass release of these photos, which appeared on the forum 4chan in August of 2014.

Collins is one of three men who have been convicted of separately obtaining the celebrity photos involved in the leak. Edward Majerczyk carried out a similar phishing operation that gave him passwords for over 300 Gmail and iCloud accounts; he pled guilty in July, but has not yet been sentenced. Andrew Helton was sentenced to six months and fined $3,000.