Computer hacker George Samuel Bronk, 23, of Citrus Heights California, pleaded guilty to seven felony charges which included hacking into e-mail accounts and Facebook accounts of women in 17 states and in England.
The felony charges include "computer intrusion, false impersonation and possession of child pornography." Bronk faces up to six years in imprisonment and will be registered as a sex offender.
Bronk was first arrested in September with a catch of 3,200 emails and around 170 explicit photographs of women in his hard drive. His modus operandi included specifically targeting Facebook accounts of women who also posted their email ids on the account. He would then attempt to enter into the email accounts by using leads given on the Facebook account to answer security questions like "What's your mother's maiden name?" of "What's your first pet's name?" etc.
He would then change the password of the email account and lock the users from accessing the account. Bronk would then scan the "sent mail" folder of the victim for nude or semi-nude photographs and would then forward it to entire email address book. He also gained unauthorized entry into some Facebook accounts of the victims by sending a request for "forgot a password". He would post the nabbed photographs on various internet sites and Facebook and would post his comments.
State of California Department of Justice reported that Bonk was nabbed when a victim complained to the Connecticut State Police. He has since been held on a $500,000 bail.
One of the victims termed the ordeal as "virtual rape".
Attorney General Harris said: "This case highlights the fact that anyone with an e-mail account is vulnerable to identity theft."
Bronk's implication also brings into light the verdict handed to David C Kernell, the hacker who entered into Vice-presidential candidate Sara Palin's Yahoo email account. In September 2008, Kernell posted Palin's private emails, address book and family photos on Wikipedia functioning under the moniker "Rubico". BBC reported on Jan. 13th that David Kernell has been imprisoned in federal prison after intervention by US government officials, after a judge in November had sentenced that Kernell spends one year and one day at a halfway house. Kernell had used the same technique adopted by Bonk to access email accounts.
Also, in November 2010, naked pictures of American baseball star Grady Sizemore was circulated on the web, after his photographs were stolen from his girlfriend Playboy Playmate Brittany Binger's email account. Leah M Ayers a 19-year old from Apple Valley California was charged with felony. The modus operandi was similar to Bonk's as Ayers accessed Binger's account gleaning information from her Facebook, Twitter and Myspace accounts to guess the email account password.
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