2014 celebrity nude hacking case finally has Connecticut man charged for felony
The scandal was believed to have been a result of hackers successfully invading celebrities' private iCloud accounts and leaking their nude photos online.
The widespread celebrity nude-photo hacking case of 2014 is finally seeing some leading lights as George Garofano has been charged with the felony over the incident. He's about to plead guilty to charges that include breaking into the private accounts of A-list celebrities.
RadarOnline reported exclusive court documents from the case that leaked private — essentially nude — photos of celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton and had managed to break the internet back then.
“George Garofano, 26, of Northford, Connecticut, was named today in a criminal information that accuses him of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,” the Department of Justice said on Thursday, January 11, 2018, as per the outlet's reports.
“According to the plea agreement, from April 2013 through October 2014, Garofano engaged in a phishing scheme to obtain usernames and passwords for iCloud accounts,” the Department of Justice said.
“Garofano admitted that he sent e-mails to victims that appeared to be from security accounts of Apple and encouraged the victims to send him their usernames and passwords, or to enter them on a third-party website, where he would later retrieve them.”
Garofano “gained access to at least 250 accounts," revealed the DOJ. “This offense carries a maximum penalty of five years of imprisonment,” stated the documents that the outlet has managed to obtain. In addition to that, the man who hacked the celebs' accounts and leaked the nudes could also be given a “maximum fine of $250,000.”
At the wake of the incident, many stars such as Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Mary-Elizabeth Winstead had almost immediately confirmed the photos were theirs. Meanwhile, several others like Ariana Grande, McKayla Maroney, and Victoria Justice had claimed that the supposed photos of theirs were fakes.
The list of celebrities whose photos had been leaked went over a 100, ranging from regular A-listers to even faces that were barely known. Most of them were able to find out about the invasion of privacy only because of media reports circulating about them, but certain ones like Lawrence found out only when social networks started booming with their photos.
It was reported back then that the hacking had happened apparently via Apple's online backup service, iCloud. The hacker had taken advantage of a security flaw in the app. Despite several failed attempts at logging into the 'cloud, Apple's service still wouldn't lock the user out as most online services do, or ideally should, at least.
The aftermath of the celebrity nude scandal saw Apple changing this particular feature of their app.
The case of figuring out all the main heads behind the scandal has been ongoing for a while now; back in 2016, hacker Ryan Collins had also pleaded guilty to stealing several nude photos dating back to the 2014 scandal.
However, in the process of the trial, it became clear that this wasn't a case of brute-attacking, rather were caused in the form of a phishing attack, wherein emails were sent to the victims, warning them that their accounts might be compromised if they don't send in their login details.