Nicholas Faber, 25, has been sentenced to three years in prison for hacking into the online accounts of dozens of female students and stealing and trading their nude photos. In addition to the prison sentence, he must pay damages of $35,000. A co-defendant will be sentenced in early November.
This is according to documents from the court of the Northern District of New York, BleepingComputer writes.
Faber and his partner-in-crime Michael Fish tried to access dozens of email accounts of female students at the State University of New York between 2017 and 2019. Through this route, the men tried to obtain the passwords of their social media and other online accounts. Specifically, they searched for credentials from Google, Facebook, Snapchat, and iCloud.
Through these online accounts, the suspects wanted to steal nude photos, sex videos and other embarrassing footage. Faber and Fish then tried to sell the photos and videos to the highest bidder.
Faber gave the e-mail addresses or usernames of online accounts to the co-defendant. The prosecutor showed evidence in court that this happened more than 50 times. Faber himself tried about twenty times to hack into the accounts of female students. In ten cases he actually succeeded.
He used three methods to break into the online accounts. First, he tried to reset the password, which is a breeze since he had access to his victims’ email addresses. He also tried to change the password by answering security questions. Finally, he sent his victims a text message from a fake number. In it, he said that he tried to log into Snapchat but accidentally used their phone number. To fix this, they had to send him a one-time code they received from Snapchat. In reality, this code allowed him to reset the account password.
“When he successfully accesses online accounts, he searched and stole all the nude photos or videos he could find and sold the stolen images and video to others over the Internet,” the court’s verdict reads. Faber also made photo collages of the captured pictures and distributed them.
That’s not why the suspect ran into the lamp. University IT staff tracked him down after receiving complaints from students who could no longer log in to their accounts. An investigation was then launched. The employees blocked access to the university’s network by no longer allowing Virtual Private Networks or VPNs.
The trial took place early this year, but court documents have only now been made public. Faber stated he was guilty of identity theft, breaking into email addresses and online accounts to steal and sell nude photos and videos. The court sentenced him to three years in prison for this crime. The 25-year-old also agreed to pay $35,000 in damages. This money goes to the university, which uses it to pay for research costs. Finally, the police seized several laptops, smartphones and USB sticks.
Co-defendant Michael Fish admitted in court that he was guilty of identity theft, computer trespassing and possession of explicit footage. The court will determine his sentence on 3 November.
In practice, it often happens that hackers or cybercriminals steal naked photos or videos of (mostly) women and threaten to make them public. Sometimes the perpetrators demand money, sometimes more images from the victim. Out of a sense of shame and powerlessness, the victims agree to this. In popular parlance, we call these practices sextortion.
Curious how malicious people get nude images? What can you do to avoid becoming a victim of sextortion? Or what to do if someone is extorting you with nude photos or videos?
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