Another hacker has agreed to plead guilty to hacking celebrities’ computers and stealing personal information. Edward Majerczyk, 28, of Chicago, was charged today in connection with a phishing scheme that gave him illegal access to more than 300 Apple iCloud and Gmail accounts, including many belonging to members of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles.
Authorities did not name any of the victims. Majerczyk faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.
His guilty plea comes just five weeks after “Celebgate” hacker Ryan Collins pleaded guilty to breaking into the email accounts of numerous female stars, including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Kirsten Dunst. The two cases are not related, but both men were caught by the FBI in the same investigation of celeb hackers.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Majerczyk engaged in a phishing scheme from November 2013 through August 2014 to obtain usernames and passwords for his victims. He sent e-mails to victims that appeared to be from security accounts of Internet service providers that directed the victims to a website that would collect their information. After victims responded by entering their usernames and passwords at that site, giving Majerczyk access to them. After illegally accessing the iCloud and Gmail accounts, Majerczyk obtained personal information including sensitive and private photographs and videos, according to his plea agreement.
The charge against Majerczyk stems from the investigation into the leaks of photographs of numerous female celebrities in September 2014 known as “Celebgate.” Investigators, however, have not uncovered any evidence linking Majerczyk to the actual leaks of those photos.
“Hacking of online accounts to steal personal information is not merely an intrusion of an individual’s privacy but is a serious violation of federal law,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker.
“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.”