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Hacker who stole nude photos of celebrities gets 8 months in prison

By
Ray Downs
Jennifer Lawrence, one of the victims in the hack, said it was a sex crime. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Jennifer Lawrence, one of the victims in the hack, said it was a "sex crime." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 29 (UPI) -- A Connecticut man who hacked the cell phones of several celebrities, which led to their nude photos getting published online, was sentenced to 8 months in federal prison, U.S. attorneys announced Wednesday.

George Garofano, 26, will also serve three years of supervised release for hacking into more than 200 Apple iCloud accounts through a phishing scheme that targeted many members of the entertainment industry, including Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, Sports Illustrated model Kate Moss, and several others.

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Garofano pleaded guilty in April to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information.

"Garofano admitted that he sent e-mails to victims that appeared to be from security accounts of Apple and encouraged the victims to send him their usernames and passwords, or to enter them on a third-party website, where he would later retrieve them," the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut said in a statement. "Garofano used the usernames and passwords to access his victims' iCloud accounts, which allowed him to steal personal information, including sensitive and private photographs and videos. In some instances, Garofano traded the usernames and passwords, as well as the materials he stole from the victims, with other individuals."

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Prosecutors also said Garofano distributed the photos to others online and may have sold some for profit. The photos were eventually published online in September in September 2014 in what became known as "CelebGate."

After Garofano pleaded guilty in April, his lawyer, Richard W. Lynch, said his client was exploited by other hackers.

"George is a good person who was taken advantage of by several hackers more sophisticated than himself," Lynch told the Hartford Courant at the time. "He made mistakes, admits his guilt, apologizes to the victims and seeks the leniency of the court."

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Lawrence spoke to Vanity Fair after the photos surfaced online and said CelebGate was much more than a hacker scandal.

"It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation," she said. "It's disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change."

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