A 48-year-old Sydney man has been sentenced to one year’s imprisonment for illegally accessing the iCloud accounts of unsuspecting women in order to share their sexualised photos with strangers, as well as 10 months’ imprisonment for possessing child abuse material.
Australian Federal Police Cybercrime Operations began an investigation, known as Operation Ipone, in July 2016 following a report from the US FBI about an online user from Rooty Hill, NSW who was illegally accessing sexualised videos and images from private Gmail accounts.
AFP investigators executed a search warrant at his home in February 2017, where they gathered information about a second online user offering his services as a ‘ripper’ to access iCloud accounts and share sexualised photos downloaded from the private accounts.
The person offering his services in various online forums was identified as a 48-year-old man residing in Parramatta, NSW at the time.
Pleaded guilty to charges in late 2020
The AFP gathered further evidence about the second man’s illegal activities, and he was arrested in September 2018. He was charged with three counts of accessing and modifying restricted data while knowing that the access was unauthorised, and one count of possessing child abuse material.
In October 2020, he pleaded guilty to the charges in an appearance at the Downing Centre District Court.
According to evidence heard in court, strangers connected to the convicted man in online forums and would provide him with details of private accounts they wanted him to access. Once he accessed and downloaded private sexual material from these accounts, he would provide the files to the ‘clients’ – commonly through a Dropbox link.
On many occasions the man was offered money for his services, but instead requested he be allowed to keep copies of the files for himself.
Targets included women the man knew
People targeted included women in his life, where he was able to gather enough details about them to access their accounts and download their personal images and videos.
Forensic analysis of storage devices seized during the search warrant at his residence revealed a large quantity of sexualised images and videos belonging to his victims, whose private accounts he had compromised. Further analysis of the evidence also identified child abuse material on multiple electronic devices.
AFP Detective Superintendent, Brad Marden, said the convicted man invaded the privacy of more than 90 victims who had their intimate images and videos unknowingly downloaded from their accounts.
“Your private images and videos are just that, private. This was a gross self-serving invasion of privacy that should never have occurred,” he said.