Oct. 11 (UPI) — A former NASA contractor pleaded guilty to hacking social media accounts of women and threatening the victims if they didn’t send him nude photos, U.S. Attorneys announced Thursday.
Richard Gregory Bauer, 28, a former contractor at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., pleaded guilty to stalking, computer hacking and aggravated identity theft.
In a plea agreement, Bauer said used an anonymous account to send messages to victims where he threatened to disseminate gheir nude photos if they didn’t send him more. Bauer did not have nude photos to disseminate in every case, but in others, he managed to hack their accounts and steal nude photos.
All of the victims were women that Bauer knew, either through school, work, family or friends of friends.
Bauer had two methods of hacking victims’ accounts. One way was by contacting victims on Facebook using his personal account and asking them to answer a questionnaire he said was for a “human societies class.” The fake questionnaire had question that are commonly used to recover passwords, such as name of your first pet and city where your parents met.
“Armed with that information, Bauer reset passwords to gain access to his victims’ online accounts, primarily cloud-based iPhone backups, from which he harvested photographs, videos and documents containing passwords for other accounts,” prosecutors said.
Bauer’s other method involved convincing his victims to install malware that he claimed was software he needed help testing.
“The malware gave Bauer unauthorized access to the computers, and allowed him, among other things, to capture from the victims’ computers passwords for web sites and e-mail accounts,” prosecutors said.
Bauer faces up to five years in federal prison for the stalking and computer hacking charges and up to two years for the aggravated identity theft charge.