Man jailed for hacking into 297 accounts to search for private images
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A computer hacker has been jailed for 32 months after accessing 297 victim accounts in order to download and steal their private photographs for his own sexual gratification.
Robert Field, 38, of Nightingale Avenue, Hathern, Loughborough, was sentenced for 28 counts of causing a computer to perform a function to secure unauthorised data and one count of securing unauthorised access to computer material with intent at Chelmsford Crown Court today, Friday 13 March.
He previously pleaded guilty to the offences at the same court on Friday 14 February.
In June 2018, Essex Police’s Cyber Crime Team and local officers executed a warrant at an address in Huthwaite in Nortinghamshire and arrested Field after we received information he was hacking accounts.
We found that he had accessed Apple iCloud accounts of men and women, some known to him, to look for and download images.
Many private photographs and videos were of an intimate and sexual nature.
Field also shared the photographs with other individuals in private and in cases, on public websites for everyone to see.
It was found that Field meticulously carried out research on the victims and by having their email details, he was able to successfully guess their security questions.
Most of his activity took place when the victims were sleeping, meaning they would only find out that their passwords had been reset after waking up.
Some people also mistook the emails as phishing scams.
We found that Field kept a full detailed spreadsheet on his computer that contained the personal details of all of his victims including their security answers, names, date of birth and addresses.
He also include the techniques he had used to hack their accounts and what he had captured.
Field wrote every changed password down in this document and there was evidence that showed he had hacked or attempted to hack hundreds of accounts.
Detective Sergeant Ian Collins, of Essex Police's Cyber Crime Team said: “Field is a sexual predator who has now been brought to justice for his actions.
“The victims have been through an extremely distressing and emotional time throughout this investigation and can now have some justice knowing that he has been convicted, which will also act as a deterrent for other offenders.
“Field went to extreme lengths to obtain images of women without permission for his own and others sexual gratification.
“His secret lifestyle went hidden for many years until we received just a single report that revealed much, much more.
“Field used his specialist knowledge to hack his unsuspecting victims' accounts across the country and then accessed their most intimate photographs, having no regard to the distress and embarrassment he caused to them.
“This case highlights the importance of using two-factor authentication (2FA) on your online accounts which I urge people to use as this would have prevented the access to these accounts as the defendant would have needed the mobile phone of the victims at the same time."
“I would like to applaud the diligence and determination of Detective Constable Arran Holmes and the Essex Police Cyber Crime team in support of this operation, which has resulted in Field and three other men receiving time in prison.”
Judge Emma Peters praised DC Holmes and described him today as ‘an excellent case officer’.
Field’s sentence is part of a larger Essex Police investigation involving a number of suspects across the country found to be hacking into hundreds of iCloud accounts.
It started after a victim from Grays reported her iCloud account being hacked and her personal intimate pictures posted online.
Three other offenders have already been convicted for iCloud hacking under OP Identify with Craig Steinberg, 33, of Lily Street, Sunderland, jailed in March 2018 for 34 months for 14 counts of Computer Misuse Act Offences, Dominik James, 33, of Beehive way, Stevenage, jailed for eight months in August 2018 for five counts of Computer Misuse Act Offences and Tony Spencer, 38, of Victoria Hill, Eye, Suffolk, jailed in January 2020 for 32 months for nine counts of voyeurism and five counts of taking an indecent photographs of a child and 12 counts of Computer Misuse Act (Hacking) Offences.