A Chicago man has been sentenced to jail for his part in the “Celebgate” hacking scandal of 2014.
Edward Majerczyk, 29, was accused of organising a high-level phishing scheme that tricked victims into giving him usernames and passwords. Majerczyk, wasn’t charged or accused of selling or posting the material online, but was found by a jury to have played a pivotal role in stealing private information, including nude videos and photos from a host of well-known celebrities who were mostly female. Much of the material stolen subsequently found its way onto the internet, and can still be accessed.
In court proceedings, Majercyzk explained that he and his fellow hackers gained access to celebrities’ accounts by simply pretending to be an agent of an internet service provider and asking them for username and password information. Phishing scams are one the most common and successful methods employed by hackers to obtain access to their victims’ data. The hackers in the Celebgate scandal created fake emails that claimed to come from a company that the victims then gave away their login and password details.
While no names were listed in the official charges against the Chicago native, the Hollywood actress, Jennifer Lawrence, was just one of around 30 or so celebrities who were hacked in 2014. Most of the stolen credentials were used to access their victims cloud storage, mainly iCloud, and Gmail.
In July, The U.S. Department of Justice issued a statement announcing that “Majerczyk had been charged with felony computer hacking” in connection with Celebgate. Deidre Fike, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said at that time that Majerczyk “hacked into his victims’ private lives, causing embarrassment and lasting harm.