back to article Man nabbed nude pics from women's email accounts

A California man on Thursday admitted breaking into the Facebook and email accounts of hundreds of women and stealing nude and semi-nude pictures of them. George Samuel Bronk, 23, of Citrus Heights, pleaded guilty to seven felony charges, including computer intrusion, false impersonation and possession of child pornography. He …


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  1. Antidisestablishmentarianist

    California Highway Patrol?

    What, was the guy doing all this whilst driving or something?

    1. JaitcH

      CHP - state police

      The California Highway Patrol < > are the state police. They were merged in 1995 < >.

      Guess you're not a CHiPs TV fan.

      The 98 Crown Victoria also had a CHIP socket that provided special features for the police 'Interceptor' version of this automobile!

    2. Steve the Cynic

      Look stuff up before making fun of it.

      "The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is a law enforcement agency of the U.S. State of California. The CHP has patrol jurisdiction over all California highways and also acts as the state police."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      California Highway Patrol?

      The CHP is more or less the equivalent of the state police in many other states. They have jurisdiction anywhere in the state, although their primary assignment is traffic control on state highways. There is also a law enforcement organization known informally as the state police in California, but their primary job is protecting state buildings and public officials.

      Helicopter, because either agency can bust perps.

      1. peterrat
        Thumb Up

        I know

        Even I knew the status of the CHP, and I'm from the UK

  2. Anonymous Coward


    They should be issuing arrest warrants for the photographers any minute now.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    You know there are free pictures of naked ladies on the internet, right?!

    No hacking required - just Google and a filthy mind.

    1. Tempest
      Thumb Down

      Why does enjoyment of the naked female form require a 'filthy mind'

      Little wonder you posted as a Coward as I think your comment says more about you than anything else.

      This implies that Rembrandt, Jules Pascin, Zhang Ping, et al had 'filthy minds', some they most likely wouldn't agree with.

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Why does enjoyment of the naked female form require a 'filthy mind'

        I think your willingness to take that comment so seriously, and to compose the most pretentious list imaginable in support of that seriousness, says more about you than anything else.

        But then I have been here too long.

        1. Richard 81

          So, so jaded.

          "I have been here too long"

          I fear so.

          1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

            Re: So, so jaded.

            Hey, I'm only jaded when you're looking.

            1. C Yates

              Re: Re: So, so jaded.

              Am I the only one getting slightly turned on by that comment?

              In retrospect I should have probably posted anon :)

              1. Jess--

                posting anon!!!

                You think that ticking an anonymous box would stop the moderatrix from knowing who you are?

                1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

                  Re: posting anon!!!

                  Don't remind everyone that I can see who they are, they'll only get even more overexcited.

        2. Heff

          re; pretentious list

          I find it pretty awesome he can pull a list of dirty nude painters off the top of his head like that.

          someone is protesting too much "they're art! not porn! thats why I have them all over my home! tasteful prints and etchings!"

  4. Heff
    Paris Hilton

    yadda yadda ita a bad thing, but

    at the same time I find it highly amusing that there are still people out there learning lessons about password security and "dont put naked pictures of yourself on the fucking internet". I mean, really? its 2011 for fucks sake.

    Paris, for obvious reasons

    1. Franklin

      This title no verb

      "Dont put naked pictures of yourself on the fucking internet" is one lesson that could be learned, I suppose. I think a better lesson is "don't surround nudity with such walls of shame that having them be on the Internet would cause you distress." *shrug* If someone tried to blackmail me with the threat of naked pictures being spread all over the Internet, I'd just yawn. Who cares? In this day and age, being ashamed over something like that just seems silly to me.

      1. Richard 81

        Enlightened yes, but not common

        I can imagine many women, men too but particularly women, finding it hard to adopt such an attitude. Imagine if the women's email contact lists included work colleagues.

      2. Jim 59


        The issue is not shame of the body, but violation of expected privacy. A woman might happily send her boyfriend intimate pictures. She is not ashamed of her nudity. Obviously she is quite proud of it. That doesn't mean she would be happy for the pictures to become public property.

        On the other hand, shame might result from the activity depicted. If the woman is shown performing a sex act or just posing naked in front of a mirror, does she really want her nephews to see that ? No. Is she ashamed of her body ? No.

        1. JohnG


          Yeah - that's all true but....

          "That doesn't mean she would be happy for the pictures to become public property."

          So don't put those pictures on the Internet at all if you hope to keep them private. There's a difference between how the world should be and how it is in reality.

          1. Jim 59


            If the woman had "put those pictures on the internet", there would be no story. Instead she emailed the pictures. I agree she acted naively, but emails are not public domain, at least in the view of CHiPs.

      3. Heff

        there's a difference

        between shame, and... I dont know what the word Im looking for is.

        there's some pretty deranged shit of me online, but you have to search hard for it; my usual handle is this one and its so ridiculously common I'm practically the John Smith of the inter-webs, and my real name is apparently under much wider use by some successful travel book dude or something, so I'm kinda covered there, too. the fact that its out there doesn't bother me. if someone tried to blackmail me personally, I wouldn't care. being labelled 'the dirty old man' at work, however, or having my wife caused embarrassment over what I might have thought was funny one a drunken evening 7 years before I met her is a different thing.

        I personally wish there was more of a blanket attitude of "as long as your kids dont see it, what the fuck should I care" but you never know when you're going to run into some prudish and judgemental asshole who decides to bear a grudge because you bared your arse.

        It would be nice to live in such a world, but the comments of people with both hands on their keyboard when faced with a woman with her tits out, duck-face at the camera on FB isnt "well, she looks like a nice person having some fun" its usually "vapid attention whore" and the same for a dude is somewhere between "unnnecessary, man, internet cliche" and "what the fuck is wrong with you, you degenerate pervert"

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Investigators are having a hard time identifying the majority of the victims...

    ..they can start by looking at their faces instead.

  6. J. Cook Silver badge


    ... And this is the Canonical example of why you don't post pictures of yourself naked on the internet, unless you want world + dog to see them.

    1. LaeMing

      Not just "the Internet"

      But the part of it best known for both poor security and attracting a lot of phishers!

      Not sure why ANYONE would even think of putting private things of any kind in such a place, as opposed to, say, a USB stick that lives at the back of the undies drawer when not in use.

      1. mccp
        Paris Hilton

        USB stick?

        I prefer polaroids.

        (It has to be Paris).

    2. John Lilburne


      For many posting stuff on the internet, means uploading stuff to chatrooms, forums, and blogs. A google, or yahoo email account, is not considered the same thing.

  7. Bob 18

    They Didn't Post

    I'll point out that these people didn't POST the pictures. They SENT them via email. They also made the mistake of publicly posting the same info used to reset their passwords.

    Most people have no clue of Internet security. And they also feel that email is a lot more private than it really is.

    1. Thomas 18

      It's still robbery to steal a car thats left running

      They were stupid so I took advantage of them isn't a good legal defence

      1. Anonymous Coward


        It's not robbery, it's theft, unless of course, the owner of the car was in it at the time and was forcibly removed from the vehicle.

      2. Tubs

        Not Quite

        This is more akin to leaving a car running with £1,000,000 on the back seat.

  8. thecakeis(not)alie

    This is a spectacular example of fail.

    This is why I absolutely /loathe/ web designers who are too lazy to build in the ability to write your own challenge/response questions. When all you have is a pick list of common questions, then the chances increase exponentially that this information will be findable somewhere if only an individual chooses to look hard enough.

    Dear web devs everywhere: when creating the password reset features for your websites please allow us to actually create three of our own challenges and enter the proper responses.

    Here are some great examples off the top of my head:

    Challenge: Can kill you with her delete key

    Response: Sarah Bee

    Challenge: PARIS

    Response: LOHAN

    Challenge: Lewis Page requires

    Response: Nuclear aircraft carrier

    Much fun to be had!

    1. Chris Malme


      The problem with giving users configurable challenge/response questions is that too many people would set it up as:

      Challenge: What is my password.

      Response: *********

      1. Captain TickTock


        password has 8 letters...

        (and so does overcoat)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Not quite...

      The question should not contain any clue to the answer, so by all means choose the 'Mother's Maiden Name' option, but whatever you use, it shouldn't relate in any way to you or her.

      Today, my mother's maiden name is ljrh39fnmioj48h45mfolm3j98u9034jSFNEICNwjf90

      1. IglooDude


        back in the day people generally referred to her as "Miss ljrh39fnm"

        1. Jimbo 6

          @ Create your own question

          Comedienne Lucy Porter said she got her bank to amend her question...

          Security Question: You're not going out dressed like that are you ?

          Required response : You can't tell me what to do ! YOU'RE NOT MY REAL DAD !!!!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        who am I today

        Trouble is I forget which 'mother's maiden name' I used when I set up the account.

      3. Ted Treen

        @AC 10.20

        If that's your Mom's maiden name, then you are Daneel Olivaw.


    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Own responsibility?

      Too lazy or incapable? Whatever happened to own responsibility and common sense?

      IMO its a dual fail here. I personally sort of ridicule (not really, exaggerated a bit) people who still believe that social networks are their for them and to protect their privacy. Their not!

      "If you put it on $social_network be ready to share it with the world". How hard can it be ?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @ShelLuser: One out of three ain't bad

        I know it's not considered acceptable to correct grammar or spelling these days, but I couldn't help but admire this fragment:

        "...people who still believe that social networks are their for them and to protect their privacy. Their not!"

    4. John Lilburne

      But they are challenge responses

      Mothers maiden name: zoot alores

      First school: hard knocks

      Pet name: Boris Johnson

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lewis Page requires...

      I'm not so sure we sould allow personal toys like that... whatever you do make sure that you don't accidentally buy him one if you see it on his xmas/birthday wishlist.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wouldn't work ...

      ... because a good proportion of people would probably do something like this:

      Challenge: What's 1 + 2?

      1. Annihilator
        Paris Hilton


        "Challenge: What's 1+2?"

        The beauty of that system though, is the good proportion of people who would set that challenge would probably have "5" as the response.

      2. MnM


        So true. It's Family Fortunes Reverso.

        An oldie...

        Les Dennis: Name something red

        Muppet: My jacket

    7. Rasczak

      Create your own question

      I tend to agree that only picking from a list of questions is likely to lead to answers that are findable.

      Knowing this myself I am more likely to give an answer that is deliberately wrong, knowing that it as long as I give the same wrong response if asked the question by this site later I get in.

      I can try and give that same advice to others but am aware that as the question is usually to reset a forgotten password, then if you have forgotten that then chances are you have forgotten the wrong answer you set up for that site, which defeats the purpose.

    8. Anonymous John


      Anyone who knows you're an El Reg commentard can work out the first two.

      There's nothing wrong with the standard questions as long as you supply an incorrect answer.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah my bank had that idea....

      And now i have 10 standard and non-standard challenge response "scenarios" incluing dates, times, names, questions, codes and passwords.

      When i phone i need to give a different one to the web and when i am on the web i need to use certain responses and then a card reader.

      Secure, yes i think so, convenient, not really... so they are all written down on a page headed "My bank security questions", computers are far less fallible than me!

      Anon, obviously... i have some sense of security.

    10. frank ly

      More than one way to skin a password

      One method I've seen suggested is to have a set of memorised 'incorrect' answers to the standard challenge questions.

      e.g. Mother's maiden name: Supernova

      Another way is to modify your 'correct' answers by preceding them with a keyword that is unique to the site you're using.

      e.g. Mother's maiden name: FaceSmith (or YahooSmith, HotSmith, etc.)

      If you want to get more sneaky, choose a keyword that is not easily guessable. You can figure something out.

      1. Sooty

        re: More than one way to skin a password

        "One method I've seen suggested is to have a set of memorised 'incorrect' answers to the standard challenge questions.

        e.g. Mother's maiden name: Supernova"

        There is one minor issue with that strategy, this is supposed to be a password reset function, if you have to remember a whole series of "incorrect" answers to reset your password, you could just... I don't know... remember your password!

      2. tony trolle


        all my challenge answers are fake or crazy.

        Got stuck once when the one question changed a little bit from name of "first pet" to "favorite pet"


        snake or "playmate" ;-P

    11. JimC

      own challenge/response

      Presumably you've not fielded twenty support calls from people who can't think up their own challenge/response questions, thirty from people who put in any old crap and have no idea what the answer was anyway as it was just random letters, and observed that most of the rest have just typed in mothers maiden name or first pet anyway...

    12. thecakeis(not)alie

      To be fair...

      ...I'd not actually use those particular ones. Or more accurately, I wouldn't use three challenge/response questions from the same place. I would use one from an obscure TV show I liked. Another from a fantasy novel. Another from a bit of El Reg trivia. So on, and so forth.

      If you needed to (as my bank does) respond to /all three properly/ in order to reset the password, then they are exceptionally secure. You would have to get my three best friends and my fiancée in a room together to crack my challenge/response questions for the five top sites I use. The chances of someone random person who has collected a little bit of information about me from my comments on El Reg (or anywhere else) deciphering them is fairly small.

      Not impossible...but then again no security is perfect. If I used the suggestion of memorizing something like "Mother's maiden name: Supernova" then i am opening up another can of worms. Either I am having to keep that relatively consistent - and thus a data leak on one site means all sites are compromised - or I run the very real risk of not being able to keep track of which challenge response questions are for which sites. even using Facebook.comSupernova and Twitter.comSupernova etc. would be guessable after a single leak.

      No, I prefer using challenge response questions that have meaning to me - something that so long as I am not suffering from dementia or brain damage I will always know the answer to - but which are so utterly random in origin that your average net user is highly unlikely to discover. For example, I am a trekkie. The obvious answer to the challenge “pattern” is “buffer.” It is the first thing that pops into my mind and has been since I was about 8.

      I understand this doesn’t work for all people. That’s why I see a lot of sites giving the option of “pick from a list or write your own.” The point is that for those who /are/ capable of remembering their own challenge/response pairs, the ability to do so is significantly more secure than having to use the standard questions. not offering that option is nothing more than laziness on behalf of careless developers.

  9. DrunkenMessiah
    Paris Hilton

    And here's the obligatory...

    Pics or it didn't happen!

  10. Tempest

    More, numerous victims of Facebook.

    People can be such slow learners.

    Anything posted to Facebook, and other 'social' sites, whether public or private, should be in the public domain ... especially with someone like Zuckerberg running the show.

    Hookers have better morals than he possesses.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ship him off to prison

    Give this dud 20 years in prison to think about how he has wasted his life and hurt others.

    1. thecakeis(not)alie

      20 years?

      That's about as much time as murder. Are you serious? He did a bad thing...I agree it's worth jail time. It isn't worth as much as murder.

  12. Graham Bartlett

    @Bob 18

    Don't make us mock you. Oh, OK then...

    A message sent on Facebook, within Facebook, to someone else on Facebook, is not an email. It's a Facebook post with restrictions on who can see it. It's identical to a visible-to-the-world Facebook post except in terms of who has access.

    The irony here is that you follow it with "Most people have no clue of Internet security". Omit the last three words, and you're about right...

    1. Annihilator


      Good one, mock someone for getting it wrong, comment on irony, while ironically completely getting it wrong yourself. He didn't hack Facebook - he *used* Facebook to find personal information, with which he could use to reset the passwords to their *email* accounts. From there is where he found nude pictures.

      Look at the palm of your hand please. Closer... closer... closer... <smack>

  13. RussellM

    Security questions?

    I have never understood why people stick to the security options they are given. Most systems will ask for your mother's maiden name, and that information may be in the public domain. Why provide the real information?

    Surely it's much more secure to come up with a response that cannot be guessed by someone going through your family tree? There's nothing to stop you registering with your mother's maiden name as Beeblebrox if you want to.

    1. Annihilator


      My mum's maiden name *is* Beeblebrox! What do I do? :-)

      I do much the same with "Where were you born?". Some answers to which I've given being "an oilrig", "the back of a Capri as they didn't make it to the hospital in time" and of course, "Narnia"

    2. Cameron Colley

      The problem is remembering it.

      If you use a fake name then how do you remember what that was?

      I think as I get older I'm just going to start keeping all my passwords on a piece of paper in my wallet, because otherwise I'm not going to recall all of them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Try this:

        Free, portable and has decent encryption. Excellent for keeping passwords and little snippets of info.

  14. Steve 13
    Paris Hilton

    child porn?

    Presumably this means that one of his victims was under 18? And if said victim is in the US and is located they may also be charged with possession of said images and probably also with creating child porn and distribution...

    I'll also second the puzzlement about the highway patrol!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    child porn? really?

    Smells like a bonus charge they tacked on because none of the others was serious enough and a couple of the pictures looked like they could have been 17. I stand ready to be corrected though.

    1. themadpoetuk

      Yes child porn

      According to the details of the arrest warrant on AG website while looking at the "stolen images" of the women he impersonated they found a folder with some extremely sick and seriously disturbing images/movie of a 2 year old. So yeah Child Porn was found.

  16. Clyde

    CHiPs ?

    "The agency then contacted the California Highway Patrol "

    Are they still around ? They had their own slot on TV umpteen years ago. Didn't they use some sort of scooter like motor bike ?

    What are they doing investigating facebook and emails ? Do the smarmy brylcreemed execs of California still drive around the highways whilst committing their dastardly deeds ?

    I think we need more stories of this nature. We need to know all about the bank robbers and the murderers in Thailand or Hawaii or Inner Mongolia that were caught after their email was traced to downtown Bellshill, or Milngavie.

  17. Ralph B
    IT Angle


    So, commentards observe, a Facebook luser

    Has smaller Facebook lusers that on him prey;

    And these have smaller still to bite ’em;

    And so proceed ad infinitum.

  18. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Once again...

    Scumbag breaks into accounts of people so fucking stupid they'd stick pictures on themselves, naked, into the public domain.

    What is wrong with these people? The second you decide to send anything up that wire out of your house you can basically assume you sacrifice control of it, especially to well known sites like FaceSlap that have had previous security issues!

  19. Graham Bartlett


    "Lewis Page requires"

    Come on now, that's not the right answer. The real password is "American nuclear aircraft carrier", yeah?

    1. thecakeis(not)alie

      No, not American.

      Just something capable of actually launching proper aircraft. I have never read Lewis' articles to read "American-made is better than everything else." I have always read them to be "use off the shelf hardware that is good value for money and let some other chump pay the R&D costs."

      Personally, I agree with him.

  20. JohnG

    Quelle surprise

    "Police have emailed 3,200 questionnaires to potential victims, but so far only 46 women have come forward."

    "You have numerous pictures of me in the buff so to get the full humiliation, I'd like to come down to the police station to make a report and have all your officers have a good laugh at my expense"

  21. Graham Bartlett

    @Annihilator, Bob18

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Faceplant! Mock away... :)

  22. JMB

    "dont put naked pictures of yourself on the ####### internet".

    It's also a general rule that if a woman gives nude pictures to a boyfriend then he will show them to all his friends and quite possibly give them copies so the pictures will end up all over the Internet.

  23. Melanie Winiger

    Only 170

    "When Bronk's home was raided in September, investigators found more than 170 explicit photographs of women stored on his hard drive"

    Just 170 - that's nothing, I've got ... oh hang on...

  24. Rolf Howarth

    Next round of spam...

    Ooh, I can see the mailshot already!

    "Dear Ms X, we are the police and have reason to suspect someone may have stolen naked photos of you. If you think naked or seminaked pictures of you (and/or your hot sister) may have been sent by email recently, please send us a copy (together with your name, age and phone number) so we can check them against our list to determine if you are the victim of a crime. Love and kisses from the California Highway Patrol Department."

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Pics or stfu !

    This is the sort of thing that would have put Harrison Marks out of business long before he could do it himself. For sale to bona fide art students only, of course...

    Paris, as she's often naked as nature intended.

  26. Anonymus Cowerd
    Thumb Up

    Clearly what is needed.....

    Is for law enforcement to have a database of nude photographs of ALL citizens. Then when a crime such as this is committed, it will be easy to identify the victims.

  27. F111F


    Is this just the tip of the iceberg? How many women are actually doing this? And why don't I know any of them?

    1. Mr_Pitiful

      yeah why only 3,200

      I've never seen any of them either...

      or am I so sad to only visit SQL & geek forums?

      btw. never used this facebook device, does it connect with usb?

  28. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Challenge Question

    It is even more fun when I call into a call center and they ask the challenge question I have previously entered on their website:

    "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?"

    (Yes, I am serious and no, I am not going to tell you the answer)

  29. Mark 110

    Oh and as for embarrassment at work

    Colleague of mine has some fairly explicit shots on FHM Girl next door thing or whatever its called. Shes 42. Comes in work and gets on with her job and noone bats an eyelid. All the fellas have checked them out of course and I guess if she found it embarrassing that her colleagues have seen her naked breasts and ass then I'm sure it would be embarrassing. But its not.

  30. Mark 110


    The generation being born now will have no embarrassment over nudity and these kind of stories will die. They will have got used to nude images from the first time they are allowed to use the internet and from puberty they will have got used to nude images of themselves being seen by others.

    I really never understood why as a society we are so paranoid about people seeing our bits unless we are on the beach, when suddenly it stops being an issue. Each to their own I guess.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bet you any money this guy's a /b/tard

    Ill-gotten Facebook noodz are a stock-in-trade of 4chan's least salubrious corner. Anonymous is not only a force of mild irritancy

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just need to check

    I fear my girlfriend might be a victim of this bloke, can you send all the photos over so I can check please?

  33. Anonymous Coward

    I know the wrong people

    No one's ever sent me nude pictures of themselves...

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