A Pennsylvania man admitted Tuesday that he utilized a phishing scheme that gave him illegal access to over 100 Apple and Google e-mail accounts, including those belonging to members of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles.
The man, Ryan Collins, 36, faces sentencing at a date that has not yet been set. He pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge William W. Caldwell.
According to the plea agreement, from November 2012 until the beginning of September 2014, Collins engaged in a phishing scheme to obtain user names and passwords for his victims. He sent e-mails to victims that appeared to be from Apple or Google and asked victims to provide their usernames and passwords.
When the victims responded, Collins then had access to the victims’ e-mail accounts, according to the agreement. After illegally accessing the e-mail accounts, Collins obtained personal information including nude photographs and videos, according to his plea agreement. In some instances, Collins would use a software program to download the entire contents of the victims’ Apple iCloud backups, the agreement said.
The charge against Collins stems from the investigation into the leaks of photographs of numerous female celebrities in September 2014 known as Celebgate. However, investigators have not uncovered any evidence linking Collins to the actual leaks or that Collins shared or uploaded the information he obtained.
Many of Collins’ victims were members of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. By illegally accessing the e-mail accounts, Collins accessed at least 50 iCloud accounts and 72 Gmail accounts, most of which belonged to female celebrities.