A man who hacked the Apple iCloud and Gmail accounts of hundreds of people, including celebrities in Los Angeles, from his computer in Chicago has pleaded guilty to computer fraud in federal court, authorities said.
Edward Majerczyk, 28, pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and faces a maximum of five years in prison, though court documents show he’ll likely be sentenced to between six months and one year.
According to prosecutors, between Nov. 23, 2013 and August 2014 Majerczyk conducted a phishing scheme that tricked unsuspecting victims online into turning over their user names and passwords for such services as Apple’s iCloud and Google’s Gmail.
Using email addresses like email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, Majerczyk duped more than 300 people — including at least 30 L.A.-based celebrities — into clicking on links that redirected them to a website where Majerczyk could see them enter their username and password.
The emails he sent out led the victims to believe they were receiving messages from their Internet service providers, officials said.
Majerczyk used the information he obtained through the scam to rummage through his victims’ personal files and steal photographs and videos. He’s scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 10.
“The defendant's acceptance of responsibility for his role in the intrusion of his victims' accounts and their personal lives is a welcome development in this continuing investigation," said Deirdre Fike, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s office in Los Angeles, in a statement. “All of us who use personal phones or devices must protect our data with strong passwords and two-factor authentication, as well as to be cautious of solicitations that can compromise our private information."
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