Hao Kuo Chi, 40, of La Puente, has agreed to plead guilty to four felonies, including conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to a computer, court records show. Chi, who goes by David, admitted that he impersonated Apple customer support staff in emails that tricked unsuspecting victims into providing him with their Apple IDs and passwords, according to court records.
Chi gained access to the iCloud accounts of at least 306 victims. About 200 of those accounts were accessed at the request of people he met online. His services were marketed using the moniker "icloudripper4you".
In a brief phone conversation, Chi said he didn't even know who was involved. He had communicated with his co-conspirators using a foreign secure email service.
To lure victims into changing their iCloud password, Chi setup two gmail addresses: "applebackupicloud" and "backupagenticloud". In those accounts the FBI found over 500,000 emails including 4,700 with iCloud user IDs and passwords. He used Dropbox to save the over 620,000 photos and 9,000 videos collected.
The ploy unraveled when a California company specializing and removing celebrity photos from the Internet notified a public figure in Tampa, Florida that nude photos of them had been posted online. Those photos had been backed up to iCloud. Investigators found that a login to the victim's account had come from Chi's house.
Chi has pled guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of gaining unauthorized access to a protected computer. Each charge carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.