Lancaster man sentenced to 18 months in prison for hacking celebrity computers

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A Lancaster man who admitted to hacking into the email accounts of celebrities and stealing their private information and photographs was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in federal prison.

Ryan Collins, 36, was immediately taken into custody Wednesday following sentencing in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, according to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler.

Collins plead guilty in May to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information. He was originally charged in Los Angeles, but the case was transferred to Harrisburg.

According to authorities, Collins engaged in a “sophisticated phishing scheme” between November 2012 and September 2014 in which he illegally accessed over 100 Apple and Gmail accounts, including several belonging to female celebrities.

After illegally accessing the email accounts, Collins obtained personal information, including nude photographs and videos.

In some instances, Collins would use a software program to
download the entire contents of the victims’ Apple iCloud backups. In addition, Collins ran a modeling scam in which he tricked his victims into sending him nude photographs.

According to investigators, however, no evidence exists to suggest Collins leaked their images to the web.

Investigators identified over 600 victims, many of whom 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, many of which belonged to female celebrities.