Ryan Collins made headlines in 2014 when private images of Hollywood celebrities circulated on the Internet in what became known as “Celebgate.” It was soon revealed that Collins hacked the personal email accounts of the famous people depicted in the photos.
Collins is a 36-year-old man from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Beginning in November 2012, he unlawfully accessed more than 100 Apple and Google email accounts by using a phishing scheme. According to authorities, Collins would send emails to the account holders and ask them to provide their usernames and passwords. The victims believed the emails had come directly from Apple or Google, so they typed their login info and sent it to Collins. Once Collins had access to the victims’ email accounts, he downloaded private information that included nude photographs and videos of female celebrities.
It is believed that Collins used other means to obtain nude photos of his victims. For instance, federal prosecutors said that Collins also “ran a modeling scam in which he tricked his victims into sending him nude photographs.”
Collins did not actually upload the nude images to the Internet, but someone else did. The ensuing scandal, dubbed “Celebgate,” generated countless media headlines and caused embarrassment for the victims. Jennifer Lawrence, one of the celebrities whose hacked photographs were released over the Internet, spoke publicly about how she felt like the victim of a sex crime. The total number of Collins’ victims exceeded 600, with many of them being world-famous actors and musicians.
The FBI eventually traced the celebrity photo hacking to Collins and placed him under arrest. Collins later pleaded guilty to a single criminal count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, which constituted a violation of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Now Collins is sitting in a federal penitentiary, the result of the severe punishment handed down by a federal judge. Collins appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and was sentenced to a term of incarceration of 18 months in prison.
If you have been accused of an Internet sex crime, or any other sexual offense, in Atlantic County, NJ, you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer immediately. The experienced, aggressive AC criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty can help you fight your charges and avoid the most severe penalties. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.