What you need to know
- A Los Angeles County man has pled guilty to stealing over 620,000 iCloud images from Apple users.
- Hao Kuo Chi, 40, of La Puente, posed as Apple customer support and duped customers into handing over their credentials.
- Chi hacked the accounts of over 300 victims.
A Los Angeles County man has pled guilty to four felonies, after he stoles 620,000 iCloud photos from Apple users.
LA Times reports:
A Los Angeles County man broke into thousands of Apple iCloud accounts and collected more than 620,000 private photos and videos in a plot to steal and share images of nude young women, federal authorities say.
Hao Kuo Chi, 40, of La Puente, has agreed to plead guilty to four felonies, including conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to a computer, court records show.
According to the report, Chi posed as Apple customer support staff in emails, tricking users into handing over their iCloud credentials. The report states Chi access the photos and videos of at least 306 victims in the U.S., most of whom were young women. He also worked with co-conspirators and advertised his skills online:
Chi said he hacked into the accounts of about 200 of the victims at the request of people he met online. Using the moniker "icloudripper4you," Chi marketed himself as capable of breaking into iCloud accounts to steal photos and videos, he admitted in court papers.
Chi acknowledged in court papers that he and his unnamed co-conspirators used a foreign encrypted email service to communicate with each other anonymously. When they came across nude photos and videos stored in victims' iCloud accounts, they called them "wins," which they collected and shared with one another.
Chi reportedly said he did not know who was involved and said he was scared that the revelation of his crimes would ruin his whole life. He also said he was remorseful for what he did. Chi had a Dropbox account with 620,000 stolen photos and 9,000 videos, and appears to have been caught after posting pictures of an unnamed public figure to a pornographic website:
A California company that specializes in removing celebrity photos from the internet notified an unnamed public figure in Tampa, Fla., that nude photos of the person had been posted on pornographic websites, according to Bossone. The victim had stored the nude photos on an iPhone and backed them up to iCloud. Investigators soon discovered that a log-in to the victim's iCloud account had come from an internet address at Chi's house in La Puente, Bossone said. The FBI got a search warrant and raided the house May 19. By then, agents had already gathered a clear picture of Chi's online life from a vast trove of records that they obtained from Dropbox, Google, Apple, Facebook and Charter Communications.
Chi reportedly faces up to five years in prison for each of the four crimes he pled guilty to, namely one count of conspiracy and three counts of gaining unauthorized access to a protected computer.