ROCHESTER, N.Y.—U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Justin Potts, 36, of Rochester, NY, was charged by criminal complaint with unauthorized access of a protected computer. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa M. Marangola, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, in March 2017, the Rochester Police Department alerted the FBI’S Cyber Task Force about the defendant who had been arrested for using his mobile phone to take pictures of women in various stages of undress at multiple tanning salons in Rochester.
Subsequent investigation determined that Potts’s computer storage devices contained approximately 450 computer files which contained indications that the defendant gained unauthorized access into various women’s password protected digital accounts.
Potts conducted a multi-year, multi-state, campaign to access the online accounts primarily associated with young women. Once the defendant successfully gained access to a victim’s online account, he would routinely continue accessing additional accounts for the same victim. Potts appeared to target university and personal email accounts, Facebook accounts, Apple iCloud accounts, and online password managers. An examination of one of the defendant’s hard drives found many files that contained nude or partially nude or revealing images of some of the young women whose accounts he hacked. Investigators also found nude images of celebrities, images believed to be downloaded from file sharing sites.
Investigators believe 150 victims were targeted as a result of the computer intrusion scheme orchestrated by Potts.
The defendant made an initial appearance on June 28, 2018, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian W. Payson and is being detained.
The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert, and the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.