Tampa, Florida – Hao Kuo Chi (40, La Puente, CA) today pleaded guilty to conspiracy and computer fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to court documents, for years Chi and others conspired to—and in fact did—gain unauthorized access to the Apple iCloud accounts of hundreds of individuals across the country. Using the online moniker “icloudripper4you,” Chi marketed himself as capable of hacking into iCloud accounts and stealing the content stored therein. Chi created email accounts for the purpose of impersonating Apple customer support representatives, and Chi’s conspirators sent Apple IDs and passwords of unsuspecting victims to these email accounts.
During the conspiracy, Chi hacked into more than 300 iCloud accounts belonging to victims from across the United States. Chi and his conspirators specifically sought out nude photographs and videos of young women, which the conspirators referred to as “wins.” Chi kept hundreds of thousands of stolen images for his personal collection and maintained a terabyte of cloud storage for this purpose. Chi also shared and traded these images with his conspirators, using a foreign-based, end-to-end encrypted email service. Some of those conspirators subsequently released the images into the public sphere.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Carlton C. Gammons.