George Garafano was sentenced to eight months in prison for hacking into the phones of celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst and up to 240 more people. While that sounds like the work of a pro, it turns out that Garafano is just a 26-year old man from North Branford, Connecticut.
Dubbed Celebgate, the leak of female celebrities’ nude photos was one of the most shocking invasions of celebrity privacy. Many celebs were victimized when nearly 500 photos, most of which were adult in nature, were shared on 4Chan before being distributed across the internet to be gawked at.
Media outlets instantly began covering the hack, dubbing it Celebgate and The Fappening. While many relished in the literal expose’ of many popular women in Hollywood, clearly it was a huge violation of privacy and it was very illegal.
Jennifer Lawrence was devastated by the leak and called for tougher punishments for what she said felt like a sex crime. Back in 2014, Lawrence told Vanity Fair:
“It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change.”
How was George Garofano able to hack into phones?
It turns out that the method Garofano and three others used in order to hack into 240 Apple iCloud accounts was pretty simple. It was a run-of-the-mill phishing scheme where they would email unsuspecting account holders while posing as a member of Apple’s online security team.
You know those pesky warnings about never giving out your password through email? This is exactly why. Garofano admitted to sending out emails requesting login and password information and, surprisingly, plenty of people responded.
According to The Courant, Garofano was busy collecting login information from his illegal phishing operation from April 2013 to October 2014.
Garofano did not act alone
George Garofano wasn’t the only person accused of hacking into celebrity iCloud accounts. Deadspin reported that the collection of stolen celebrity photos was put together by a trading ring of hackers, buyers, and sellers whose purpose was to sell the photos online.
Though it doesn’t look like any of the men who have been convicted for their part in Celebgate knew each other personally, it has been reported that they were all involved in the same trading ring.
Ryan Collins, who is from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he pled guilty to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information. He was sentenced in October 2016.
Edward Majerczyk of Chicago, Illinois also pled guilty to taking part in the phishing scheme, though authorities believe he acted alone and that he didn’t sell any of the images. Majercyk was sentenced to nine months in prison and was ordered to pay $5,700 in restitution to one unnamed celebrity victim in order to pay for counseling.
So, who is George Garofano?
Aside from what has been reported over the years about the Celebgate photo scandal and the trials of those who were caught up in it, not much is known about George Garofano. The latest hacker to plead guilty in the celebrity nude photo leak of 2014 was sentenced to eight months in prison for his crimes.
A recent photo showed him walking to court for sentencing. There are no other widely circulated mugshots or other photos of Garofano online, although there are some that have been attributed to him.
Garafano has a low profile on the internet. A Twitter account handle @gvgarofano was previously attributed to the felonious photo snatcher but it has been shut down.
There is also a very private and pictureless Facebook account that may belong to Garofano, but this has not been confirmed.