Man sentenced to six months imprisonment for hacking hundreds of email accounts, including those of celebrities
A man from Portland, Oregon who was responsible for accessing hundreds of email accounts and stealing nude photos, including those of celebrities, has been sentenced to six months in prison plus two years of supervised release on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt also issued a $3,000 fine to Andrew Helton, who pleaded guilty in February for stealing 161 nude photos from 13 people, including celebrities. The judge described the scam as a “very serious invasions of privacy,” but also said he considers the sentencing “part of a new beginning.”
However, authorities said they do not believe Helton leaked any of the images he stole. As Helton was arrested in 2013 – prior to the Fappening, nude images of Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson and Gabrielle Union and many other female stars that were widely circulated online in August 2014 are believed to have been leaked from another source.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie S. Christensen urged the judge to sentence Helton to a minimum of one year in prison, explaining in her filings that “for more than two years, defendant Andrew Helton targeted, baited, and hooked unsuspecting victims with his phishing e-mails. He targeted strangers, acquaintances, and celebrities alike. He trolled through their private e-mail accounts, accessing the most private of communications. He systematically pilfered nude and intimate images of his victims and stored them in his own computer for personal use.”
However, Helton’s attorney opposed that he should not receive a prison sentence because the phishing technique he used was not technologically sophisticated. Helton who has reportedly been diagnosed with bipolar disorder post-arrest said in a letter to the judge, “For the last… five years or so, I’ve been a dead man walking, so to speak. Mental illness took over my life and surrounded everything.” And, “I have a better life now than I could have ever imagined.”
He said that his manic and obsessive-compulsive behavior led him to carry out a scheme that he still does not fully understand.
“There was no expertise involved. All I did was essentially copy and paste,” he wrote. He said he didn’t target people but simply found several contact lists online.
“Those who read about my case probably imagine me in a room hatching fiendish plots to take advantage of people,” Helton wrote. “The truth is, when this was going on, it was usually filled with tears and suffering.”