Edward Majerczyk has been sentenced to nine months in federal prison for illegally accessing email belonging to more than 300 people, including at least 30 accounts belonging to celebrities. He previously had pleaded guilty to violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Majerczyk engaged in a phishing scheme from November 2013 to August 2014 to obtain usernames and passwords for his victims. He sent emails to them that appeared to be from security accounts of Internet service providers that directed them to a website that would collect their information. After they responded by entering their usernames and passwords at that site, he illegally gained access to their iCloud and Gmail accounts. According to his plea agreement, he then obtained personal information about his victims, including sensitive and private photographs and videos.
“This defendant engaged in a computer hacking scheme that not only gave him access to his victims’ computers, it also gave him access to the most personal details of their lives,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker. “This was a deep intrusion into the victims’ privacy and a violation of federal law.”
Said Deirdre Fike, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office: “Mr. Majerczyk manipulated hundreds of victims by tricking them into providing access to their accounts, including high-profile victims whose information was specifically targeted. The lasting harm this type of intrusion can cause to celebrities and non-celebrities alike cannot be overstated, and this case should serve as a necessary reminder to all of us that it is dangerous to respond to unsolicited e-mails in which our personal information is requested.”
The charge against Majerczyk stems from the FBI’s investigation into the leaks of photographs of numerous female celebrities – including Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Kate Upton – in a criminal privacy breach that came to be known as “Celebgate.” Ryan Collins, the hacker behind those crimes, was sentenced to 18 months in prison last October. Investigators, however, have not uncovered any evidence indicating that Majerczyk was responsible for any of the postings of celebrity photographs.