Victims included actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett Johansson, model Kate Upton and singer Rihanna, among others. According to a statement from US prosecutors, Collins “engaged in a sophisticated phishing scheme to obtain usernames and passwords for his victims.”
He would send what appeared to be official Apple or Google e-mails to his victims, asking them for usernames and passwords. “In addition, Collins ran a modelling scam in which he tricked his victims into sending him nude photographs,” prosecutors said.
Lawrence spoke publicly about the leak a few months after it became public. The Oscar-winning actress said at the time she believed it constituted a “sex crime”, and should be prosecuted as one. In an in-depth interview for Vanity Fair, Lawrence said “just because I’m an actress, doesn’t mean I asked for this”. “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,” she said.
Collins was convicted of accessing and stealing the photos – but not of releasing them online. A second man, Edward Majerczyk, was charged in July with illegally accessing the iCloud and Google Mail accounts of more than 300 people. According to the US Attorney’s Office, he faces a maximum five-year jail term after admitting the charge in a plea agreement. No one has yet been accused of posting the photos and videos online.
The leak is still under federal investigation.