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Hackers Lurk Online to Undress Celebrities


Jennifer Lawrence, seen with an award won at the 2016 Annual Golden Globe Awards, was one of the celebrities who had personal photos taken from her computer and later distributed online.

Jennifer Lawrence, seen with an award won at the 2016 Annual Golden Globe Awards, was one of the celebrities who had personal photos taken from her computer and later distributed online.


A Pennsylvania man has admitted to stealing online nude photos and videos from female celebrities.

Those television and movie stars include Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Kirsten Dunst and Kim Kardashian. Also Vanessa Hudgens, Rihanna, Lea Michele and Hillary Duff.

This information comes from Variety, which covers the entertainment industry.

The FBI said Ryan Collins, 36, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, admitted guilt this week to two criminal charges. Both charges are for illegal use of computers, the FBI said.

The FBI’s announcement did not name the victims. But it said Collins obtained email and other private information from 122 people. Most are “female celebrities,” the FBI said.

The case has been called “Celebgate.”

The FBI said it has no evidence that Collins posted the nude photos and videos of female stars. Those images began appearing on the Internet in 2014.

But the assistant director at the FBI’s Los Angeles, California, office said Collins still did major harm.

“By illegally accessing intimate details of his victims' personal lives, Mr. Collins violated their privacy and left many to contend with lasting emotional distress, embarrassment and feelings of insecurity,” said Assistant Director David Bowdich.

Bowdich said the FBI investigation is continuing.

The FBI said this is how Collins operated: He would send the celebrities emails that appeared to be from Apple and Google. The emails asked for sign in and password information.

Collins used this information to download entire Apple iCloud accounts, including photos and videos, the FBI said.

Bowdich said the case shows the importance of not sharing personal information, such as email passwords. That goes for both stars and regular people, he said.

Apple and Google do not send emails asking for personal information, he said.

Federal prosecutors will recommend that Collins receive an 18-month prison sentence, according to a government press release.

Prosecutor Eileen Decker said Collin’s victims have a right to make statements and attend all hearings in his case.

The charges were announced in Los Angeles, California, where many of the victims lived. But the FBI said the case will be heard by a court in Pennsylvania, near Collins’ home.

Collins is married and the father of two children, according to website Lancasteronline.com. It said Collins worked in a sales job and as an art director, but recently showed interest in working as a chef.

I'm Bruce Alpert.

Bruce Alpert reported this story for VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

celebrityn. a well-known or famous person

nude - adj. having no clothes on

entertainmentadj. the act of amusing or entertaining people

accessing v. to obtain something

intimateadj. very personal or private

embarrassmentn. something or someone that causes a person or group to look or feel foolish

passwordn. a secret series of numbers or letters that allows you to use a computer system

downloadv. the act of copying a computer file into another file or device

prosecutorn. a lawyer who represents the side in a court case that accuses a person of a crime and who tries to prove that the person is guilty

chef n. someone who cooks at a restaurant

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