Apple has a gigantic focus on security and privacy, which definitely still feels like a reaction to high-profile hacking events several years ago.

In particular, the celebrity accounts that were hacked and certain sensitive photographs were distributed across the internet. The individuals accused of that particular digital break-in have been sentenced, including a former high school teacher who was recently sentenced to 34 months in prison over the hack.

Now, a man based out of Georgia has pleaded guilty to hacking into several different Apple accounts that are owned by athletes and rappers. Not only that, the accused distributed thousands in funds from the victims’ accounts. The individual in question has been identified by the United States Department of Justice as Kwamaine Jerell Ford, age 27. The court documentation reveals that Ford used a phishing scam to gain credential information from NFL and NBA athletes, as well as high-profile musical artists.

Ford used an email phishing scam to get the log-in credentials, posing as an Apple support representative. At the time of publication, the Justice Department has not revealed which athletes or artists were hacked.

After gaining control of the accounts, Ford then changed certain elements so that the account owners could not access them on their own. Ford used the funds he distributed from the victims’ accounts to cover travel expenses, and also bought a range of other things, including home furniture.

“The high profile victims in this case are an example that no matter who you are, hackers like Ford are trying to get your personal information,” said FBI special agent Chris Hacker. “This case demonstrates the need to be careful in protecting personal information and passwords, especially in response to suspicious e-mails. Hopefully this is a lesson for everyone, not just the victims in this case.”

Ford has been in the sentencing part of the case for quite some time. Back in April of last year, he was charged with a variety of counts, including wire fraud, computer fraud, and aggravated identity fraud. At this latest trial, Ford officially pleaded guilty to only one count of aggravated identity theft and computer fraud.

Final sentencing will take place later this summer.

Our Take

These high-level hacks aren’t common, but when they happen they have consequences. Not only for those undertaking the crimes, but also the companies attached to them. Apple has doubled down and security and privacy as a result, much to the chagrin of law enforcement agencies like the FBI in the United States.

We Want To Hear From You

What do you think Ford should be sentenced to for the crimes he committed?

[via The Verge]