Calif. Man Pleads Guilty to Hacking E-Mails in Case One Victim Called 'Virtual Rape'
A California man pleaded guilty Thursday to hacking into hundreds of women’s e-mail accounts in search of naked pictures, then sending the photos to the victims' friends and, in some cases, even posting some of the pictures on their Facebook pages -- cyberattacks that one victim labeled "virtual rape."
George Samuel Bronk, 23, pleaded guilty in Sacramento Superior Court to seven felony charges, ranging from computer intrusion to false impersonation, and now faces up to six years in prison.
The scam Bronk employed appeared easy enough: He would find women on Facebook who had posted their e-mail addresses and then would phone their e-mail provider and ask for a password reset, state Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said in a news release.
When the hosts accommodated, Bronk created new passwords and in turn locked the women out of their accounts.
Bronk, of Citrus Heights, Calif., would look for nude or compromising pictures in their sent mail boxes, Harris said, and when he'd spot a picture, he would send a mass e-mail to everyone in the e-mail address book. In some instances, he was able to access their Facebook pages and post the photos.
Bronk's "nextfornav" folder indicates that he accessed 172 e-mail accounts from which he copied these pictures, according to an arrest warrant obtained by FoxNews.com.
These cyberattacks are said to have occurred from December 2009 through last September. At one point, Bronk sent a message to one of his victims saying it “was funny,” according to Harris' office, which also noted that in another incident, Bronk extorted additional nude pictures from a victim by threatening to release photos in his possession.
Bronk, who is called "Geeg" by his family, has been in jail since October after being unable to post the $500,000 bail. He will have to register as a sex offender because he downloaded a large amount of child pornography and videos and saved them on his desktop computer, Harris said.
Tracking these victims has proved challenging, but investigators have been using tagging information from Bronk's hard drive to assist in the process.
Bronk is due back in court on March 10.
Harris reminded users of e-mail and social networking sites that security questions and answers need to be as secure as passwords.