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'Celebgate' hacker sentenced to nine months for stealing nude photos

The man sentenced Tuesday in a Chicago courtroom was found guilty of hacking into the online accounts of more than 30 celebrities and stealing nude photographs and video.

By
Stephen Feller
Celebgate hacker Edward Majerczyk was sentenced Tuesday to nine months in prison after pleading guilty to operating a phishing scheme in order to illegally access at least 30 celebrities' Gmail and Apple iCloud accounts -- and more than 300 people's accounts overall -- stealing private pictures and video that were later publicly posted on the Internet. Although Majerczyk was accused of the thefts, he was not accused of making the images public. Photo by WBBM-TV
Celebgate hacker Edward Majerczyk was sentenced Tuesday to nine months in prison after pleading guilty to operating a phishing scheme in order to illegally access at least 30 celebrities' Gmail and Apple iCloud accounts -- and more than 300 people's accounts overall -- stealing private pictures and video that were later publicly posted on the Internet. Although Majerczyk was accused of the thefts, he was not accused of making the images public. Photo by WBBM-TV

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- A Chicago man was sentenced to a stint in jail Tuesday for hacking online accounts belonging to Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, Kate Upton and Hope Solo, among dozens of other celebrities two years ago that ended up online.

Edward Majerczyk was sentenced to nine months in prison after admitting to hacking the online accounts of at least 30 celebrities, and will have to pay $5,700 to one of his victims as partial compensation for treatment after the stolen photos were published on the Internet.

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Majerczyk, who was accused of stealing the images but not posting them himself, had faced as much as five years in jail for hacking into more than 300 Gmail and Apple iCloud accounts without permission. He downloaded images for his own enjoyment, he said, however they somehow ended up posted to online chat rooms and spread across the Web.

"The conduct is abhorrent," said U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras when sentencing Majerczyk. "It's a very, very trying time that we live in."

Majerczyk was, ironically, described during the trial by his attorneys as "intensely private," as well as struggling with depression and other issues when, from November 2013 until August 2014, he used a phishing scheme to trick the account-holders into granting him access to their accounts.

Once he had access to their accounts, Majerczyk searched for and downloaded personal information, especially photographs and videos, which he said he wanted for his own gratification.

Lawrence has described the hacking as "a sex crime," and told Vanity Fair in 2014 that "just because I'm a public figure, just because I'm an actress, does not mean that I asked for this."

"It does not mean that it comes with the territory," Lawrence said. "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."

Majerczyk is not the only person to face jail time for the "Celebgate" hacking scandal, though he was not working with anybody else. Pennsylvania man Ryan Collins was sentenced in October to 18 months in prison for using a similar method to break into more than 600 celebrities' accounts.

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