The three men who hacked into the personal accounts of 30 women and stole private information including nude photos are being forced to pay just $9,000 in compensation between them.
Edward Majerczyk, Ryan Collins and Andrew Helton were all behind the 2014 ‘celebgate’ photo leak, which led to personal pictures of Jennifer Lawrence and other victims being stolen and posted online.
Majerczyk, a 29-year-old man from Chicago, will spend just nine months in prison for the hack and will pay $5,700 towards counseling services for one unnamed celebrity victim, whose photos were disseminated online.
He was accused of organising a phishing scheme that led to the women giving him usernames and passwords, but he was not charged with selling or posting the material online. Last year, Majerczyk pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorised access to a protected computer to obtain information.
In October 2016, Collins, a 36-year-old from Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to federal hacking charges and admitted to a two-year phishing scam that gave him access to the private email and iCloud accounts of the women. Collins was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
A third man, Andrew Helton, was sentenced to six months in July 2016 and fined $3,000 for operating a phishing scheme.
The privacy breach led to dozens of photos being posted online, on sites including 4chan and Reddit. Victims of the attack included Lawrence, Cara Delevingne, Kirsten Dunst, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian.
The person responsible for the circulation of the naked pictures, a 4Chan user who claimed to be a “collector” not a hacker, later complained about the money they made from the hack.
They wrote on the website: “Sure, I got $120 with my bitcoin address, but when you consider how much time was put into acquiring this stuff (i’m not the hacker, just a collector), and the money (i paid a lot via bitcoin as well to get certain sets when this stuff was being privately traded Friday/Saturday) I really didn’t get close to what I was hoping.”
The case – which became known as Celebgate – was widely criticised as an invasion of sexual privacy, particularly as only women were targeted. In an interview with Vanity Fair in 2014, Lawrence called the hack a “sex crime”.
“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this,” she said. “It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world.”
Many called the hacking an example of revenge porn, which was criminalised in the UK the following year.
Which celebrities had their iCloud and Gmail accounts hacked?
The following stars revealed that their accounts were hacked and images were leaked.
- Oscar winning actress Jennifer Lawrence.
- Model Kate Upton and her boyfriend Justin Verlander
- Hollywood actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead
- Downtown Abbey actress Jessica Brown Findlay
- US comedy actress Kaley Cuoco
- Hollywood star Kirsten Dunst
- Singer-songwriter Jill Scott
The following stars denied the authenticity of images of them that were leaked
- The singer Ariana Grande
- Australian actress Yvonne Strzechowski
- Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney
- US actress and singer Victoria Dawn Justice
- American reality star Nick Hogan – the son of Hulk Hogan