Two men are facing federal felony charges, ranging from conspiracy to wire and computer fraud, for allegedly hacking into the image and video hosting website Photobucket.com.
The suspects then went on selling an app that allowed buyers to access user account information, images and videos.
Colorado Springs resident Brandon Bourret, 39, and Sunnyvale, California resident Athanasios Andrianakis, 26, were arrested on Friday at their homes by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for conspiring to commit computer fraud and abuse, identification document fraud, wire fraud, access device fraud for unauthorized access and selling illegal access to private and password protected information.
The two allegedly created an app, Photofucket, in 2012 and marketed the software for the next two years to let buyers hack privacy settings of users of Photobucket.com.
"It is not safe to hide behind your computer, breach corporate servers and line your own pockets by victimizing those who have a right to protected privacy on the Internet," stated U.S. Attorney John Walsh. "The U.S. Attorney's Office is keenly focused on prosecuting those people for their theft—and for the wanton harm they do to innocent Internet users."
The two men are being indicted for one count of conspiracy, which carries a penalty of not more than five years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine. Both face one count of computer fraud, which carries a penalty of not more than five years in federal prison and a potential $250,000 fine. In addition, the men face two counts of access device fraud, which carries a penalty of not more than 10 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine, per count.
"Unauthorized access into a secure computer system is a serious federal crime," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle. "The arrest of Brandon Bourret and his co-conspirator reflects the FBI's commitment to investigate those who undertake activities such as this with the intent to harm a company and its customers."
According to the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office, Photobucket.com has been cooperative since the start of the investigation.
Michael Clark, chief technology officer of Photobucket, said the company is dedicated to the security and privacy of its users and their data.
"Unfortunately, the defendants were intent on not only victimizing Photobucket and its users, but violating federal criminal statutes between 2012 and 2013 as alleged in the indictment," stated Clark. "We will continue to support the government's work and our users through this ongoing criminal investigation."
According to a news report, the two men allegedly used Paypal to fund the operation. The Denver-based Photobucket.com, which was founded in 2003,was once a leading photo and video-sharing service.
Neither the FBI nor the released indictment revealed how many accounts were hacked or how many copies of the Photofucket app was sold.
The investigation is ongoing, according to a U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson.