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NEWS

RELEASE

Eileen M. Decker

For Immediate Distribution

Thom Mrozek, Public Affairs Officer

March 15, 2016

United States Attorney


Central District of California
thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov
(213) 894-6947
www.justice.gov/usao-cdca
@CDCANews

Pennsylvania Man Charged with Hacking Apple and Google E-Mail


Accounts Belonging to More Than 100 People, Mostly Celebrities
LOS ANGELES A Pennsylvania man was charged today with felony computer
hacking related to a phishing scheme that gave him illegal access to over 100 Apple
and Google e-mail accounts, including those belonging to members of the
entertainment industry in Los Angeles.
Ryan Collins, 36, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has signed a plea agreement and
agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. In the
plea agreement also filed today, Collins agreed to plead guilty to one count of
unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information.
Although Collins has been charged in Los Angeles, the parties have agreed to
transfer the case to Harrisburg in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, near Collins
home, for the entry of his guilty plea and sentencing. Once he enters the guilty plea,
Collins will face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. The
parties have agreed to recommend a prison term of 18 months, but that
recommendation will not be binding on the sentencing judge.
Today, people store important private information in their online accounts and in
their digital devices, said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. Lawless
unauthorized access to such private information is a criminal offense. My Office remains
committed to protecting sensitive and personal information from the malicious actions of
sophisticated hackers and cyber criminals.
According to factual basis in the plea agreement, from November 2012 until the
beginning of September 2014, Collins engaged in a phishing scheme to obtain
usernames and passwords for his victims. He sent e-mails to victims that appeared to
be from Apple or Google and asked victims to provider their usernames and passwords.
When the victims responded, Collins then had access to the victims e-mail accounts.
After illegally accessing the e-mail accounts, Collins obtained personal information
including nude photographs and videos, according to his plea agreement. In some

instances, Collins would use a software program to download the entire contents of the
victims Apple iCloud backups.
The charge against Collins stems from the investigation into the leaks of
photographs of numerous female celebrities in September 2014 known as Celebgate.
However, investigators have not uncovered any evidence linking Collins to the actual
leaks or that Collins shared or uploaded the information he obtained.
Many of Collins victims 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, most of which belonged to female celebrities.
By illegally accessing intimate details of his victims' personal lives, Mr. Collins
violated their privacy and left many to contend with lasting emotional distress,
embarrassment and feelings of insecurity, said David Bowdich, the Assistant Director in
Charge of the FBIs Los Angeles Field Office. We continue to see both celebrities and
victims from all walks of life suffer the consequences of this crime and strongly
encourage users of Internet-connected devices to strengthen passwords and to be
skeptical when replying to emails asking for personal information.
The case against Collins is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau
of Investigation.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Ryan White
Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section
(213) 894-2296
Assistant United States Attorney Vicki Chou
Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section
(213) 894-8692
Release No. 16-049