Hao Kuo Chi accessed accounts by pretending to be a member of Apple support staff
A Southern California man has pleaded guilty to hacking into hundreds of Apple iCloud accounts to steal nude photographs of women.
Hao Kuo Chi, 40, admitted to charges of conspiracy and computer fraud in US District Court in Florida on Friday, according to Justice Department documents.
He was arrested earlier this year after police raided his home and uncovered tens of thousands of stolen photos and videos.
According to authorities, Mr Chi and others “conspired to hack into the Apple iCloud accounts of hundreds of individuals across the country in search of nude photos and videos” in criminal activities that dated back to at least 2014.
Mr Chi would sell, trade, or keep the intimate photos and videos of young women that he had stolen for himself, a plea agreement showed, and advertised his service of stealing personal pictures and videos under the name “icloudripper4you”.
Court documents say Mr Chi and co-conspirators, who called the nude videos or images they acquired “wins”, used a foreign-based encrypted email service, reports Gizmodo.
“Some of those conspirators subsequently released the images into the public sphere,” according to the DOJ.
Mr Chi gained access to accounts by posing as an Apple support staff member and tricking victims into “providing him with their Apple IDs and passwords”.
During their investigation, police discovered two Gmail accounts associated with Mr Chi that contained over half a million emails. As many as 4,700 of those emails were said to have contained iCloud account information that victims had given him.
Even with his plea agreement, Mr Chi now faces up to 20 years in prison.