back to article UK man to spend year in the clink for Facebook account hack

A British man has been jailed for a year after hacking into the Facebook account of a US citizen. Gareth Crosskey, 21, of Avon Close, Lancing, in West Sussex, hacked into his unnamed victim's profile on 12 January 2011, gaining access to an e-mail account in the process. The breach was reported to the FBI, which traced the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lol @ todays "hackers"

    L2 proxy.

    1. Crisp

      Re: lol @ todays "hackers"

      Yeah, he should have been behind at least 7 proxies.

      1. Arrrggghh-otron

        Re: lol @ todays "hackers"

        He obviously never watched the film Hackers!

        Hacking from your own home...

        "Stupid, man. It's universally stupid."

      2. Tim of the Win

        Re: lol @ todays "hackers"

        I think you mean over 9000

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Re: lol @ todays "hackers"


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: lol @ todays "hackers"

        Oh dear Big Dumb Guy, your monika is unfortunately prescient.

        I'll try to translate for the less moronic, and set you a small task of finding the caps lock key and learning how it works. It should keep you occupied for a week or two.

        "HAHAHAHHAHHH" - Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

        "A BRUITISH DUDE" - A British man (Note the spelling of British)

        "GO TO JAIL " - has been sent to jail

        "FOR MESSING WITH A AMERICAN" - for interfering with an American (notice "an" instead of "a")

        "I LOVE IT" - I'm a twat

        1. JohnnyGStrings
          Thumb Up

          Re: lol @ todays "hackers"

          "I LOVE IT" - I'm a twat

          lol :)

        2. Law

          Re: lol @ todays "hackers"

          "has been sent to jail" - has been incarcerated. ;) Or "sent to prison"... I don't think we use the term jail much over here.

          1. John H Woods Silver badge

            Re: lol @ todays "hackers"

            Yeah, did he mean gaol?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: lol @ todays "hackers"

          Who's Monika?

  2. ptpeetee


    "the result of the case should act as a deterrent to any individuals thinking of participating in this type of criminal activity". It certainly does. Back to mugging pensioners for fun then.

    1. Colin Brett

      Re: Deterrent?

      "Back to mugging pensioners for fun then."

      Only when they're asleep in their own beds.

      Spawn of Satan beacuse that's what these <expletive deleted> are. Grrrrr.


  3. I Am Spartacus

    Note to Home Secretary

    Dear Mrs May


    FBI pass details to UK Police, they do investigation, gather evidence, and (if necessary under UK law) prosecute here.

    1. adam payne

      Re: Note to Home Secretary

      +1 to you.

    2. jacobbe

      Re: Note to Home Secretary

      Yeah, am somewhat confused why this guy was not extradicted; as this seems to be the normal procedure these days.

      perhaps it is because Gary was guessing military computer passwords rather than facebook passwords (which according to all accounts are just as weak) . So its a bit more naughty.

      1. kain preacher

        Re: Note to Home Secretary

        Um the UK said there were not going to prosecute Gary. Maybe that's the difference. Perhaps, just perhaps if the UK said there were going to try Gary America would of said ok.

        1. Alex Rose

          Re: Note to Home Secretary

          would HAVE

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Note to Home Secretary

          Perhaps because the evidence was weak or other factors like circumstances or mental adequacy of the individual indicated that a prosecution was not the best way forward. Standards of justice in US are lower especially for foreign citizens.

          My note to Home Sec is that if US is likely to ask for extradition then don't choose not to prosecute here - whether found guilty or not it takes the wind out of the US' sails.

          Meanwhile scrap this treaty or at least make it symmetrical.

      2. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Note to Home Secretary

        IIRC the military passwords Gary McK guessed were, for the most part, blank. So even weaker than the average FB password!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    12 months porridge for a FB 'hack'?


    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: 12 months porridge for a FB 'hack'?

      Sending a message - computer crime is still crime.

      1. P. Lee

        Re: 12 months porridge for a FB 'hack'?

        How about this message: "locking up people for guessing passwords is a waste of taxpayer money."

        Note to Ms May: Not all "computer crimes" are equal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 12 months porridge for a FB 'hack'?

      should have been longer given that FB is obviously the cornerstone of modern civilisation; not to mention the whole purpose of "the internet".

      1. Panix

        Re: 12 months porridge for a FB 'hack'?

        I thought the purpose was pr0n.

    3. Dances With Sheep

      Re: 12 months porridge for a FB 'hack'?

      12 MONTHS !

      Christ. Assuming concurrent sentencing, you might as well give the copper bringing you in a kick in the bollocks and get your monies worth.

      1. Citizen Kaned

        Re: 12 months porridge for a FB 'hack'?

        yup. he would have got less for burgling someone. which is worse eh??

        the courts are so fucked up over here.

        1. Turtle

          @Citizen Kaned: Re: 12 months porridge for a FB 'hack'?

          "the courts are so fucked up over here."

          Well the view from afar (i.e. to me personally) seems to be that your political class, being an unhealthy amalgam of marxism and bourgeois moralism - oh but forgive me that is rather redundant is it not?! - are trying to decriminalize crime.

          Perhaps in true soviet fashion, they are more concerned with what foreigners will think, than with anything else, and having a foreigner involved as a victim, makes them feign concern for lawfulness.

          1. Alex Rose

            Re: @Citizen Kaned: 12 months porridge for a FB 'hack'?

            @ Turtle

            Marxism? Exactly how far away are you? Mars?

    4. JohnG

      Re: 12 months porridge for a FB 'hack'?

      The yob who burgled my house and five others (whilst on probation) got 120 hours community service and took over a year to pay the 100 pounds compensation awarded to me. None of my stuff was recovered. By comparison, 12 months for illegally accessing a few FB and email accounts seems a bit severe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 12 months porridge for a FB 'hack'? @JohnG

        Similar story here. The minky shit in my case didn't do any time, despite a string of burglaries. I think the cumulative stress we and all of his other victims felt is probably slightly worse than for someone who got 'fraped'.

        At least I have a rather amusing video of him repeatedly attempting to fit through the downstairs hopper window. Although it would have been nice if he hadn't left the Velux window (escape route) wide open on a rainy day... oh, and if the police hadn't sprinkled carbon powder over all of my carpets, and porous furniture... oh and...

    5. Wize

      Re: 12 months porridge for a FB 'hack'?

      All depends on the intent and who the unnamed American is.

      If he was just trying to frape a friend into having a status of "I blow goats lol" then its usually a slap on the wrists.

      If he was trying to post as Obama that 9/11 was faked or get someone's personal info for nefarious gains then his feet wouldn't have touched.

  5. nigel 15

    bit harsh innit

    a year in clink. more than you get for nicking a car.

    1. Buzzword

      Re: bit harsh innit

      More than you'd get for an average GBH too, at least for a first offence.

      1. I think so I am?

        Re: bit harsh innit

        Yep you'd probably get a suspended sentence as well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: bit harsh innit

      It's more than you get for *killing* a cyclist.

      But that's rather more to do with the fact that driving offences are scandalously under punished.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So you get less prison time for assault, mugging, robbing a property, carjacking, fraud, <insert more here> than you do for logging into someone else's online account? UK law is pathetic. Next they will be imprisoning people for not paying their tv licence while muggers get community service....oh wait...doh!

    Makes you wonder why the FBI were involved as it is doubtful they bother to investigate all the cases of a single account hack.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, the only hope of justice seems to be if the mugger also logs into your Facebook America...

  7. adam payne

    FBI investigated one hacked FB account. Account of a Hollywood celeb maybe?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      or maybe it was an FBi account

      and FB is just a cover...

    2. diodesign Silver badge

      Re: celeb

      It's emerged the victim was Selena Gomez, actress and girlfriend of gerbil-faced popular music icon Justin Bieber.


  8. NBCanuck

    Details of the crime?

    So they accessed the account. Yes, that is illegal, but if all they did was manage to guess the person's password and log in there wouldn't have been much in the way of warning flags. the more interesting part of the story would be: what did they actually do while there? Did they post nasty comments, pictures, or make any threats?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Details of the crime?

      I doubt he even did that. I bet he guessed the person's "security" question. Probably from information publicly available on said account...

  9. g e

    Better off dealing dope, then

    Doubt you'd get 12 months for that

  10. wowfood

    wow... a year for 'hacking' a facebook account. I bet it was sarah palin. She was probably using the same password she'd used on her hacked gmail account still.

    I would get less than that for punching a kitten.

  11. ACx

    Why was this prosecuted in the UK, when certain people simply must be extradited?

  12. Mr Anonymous

    So, stealing someone's private info gets you in to a UK court, on the other hand showing someone where they can download a US film gets you extradited with the probability of multi year imprisonment.

    What a distorted system, where possible civil infringement against a $$$ corporation is treated more seriously than a criminal act against an individual.

  13. Mad Mike

    There must be more to this................

    There must be considerably more to this than is being published. This lad lives just down the road from me and 12 months is a stupid sentence even for British justice (and all its stupidities) for just breaking into someones facebook account. It's interesting how none of the media reports explains why the FBI was involved or whose facebook account it was. I can only assume it's someone important (in whatever way you want to consider important).

    Obviously, what he did whilst in possession of the account is also a contributory factor and again, there is a lack of information in the press. Presumably all this means that whatever he did was very embarrassing for the person in question and therefore is being hushed up, albeit odd that the press are playing ball.

    Given that no details of previous similar offences have been revealed, it would take a bit to get this sort of sentence through other crimes on a first offence. Whatever it was, it must have been either very bad, or very good!!

    1. LinkOfHyrule

      Re: There must be more to this................

      He hacked into Big Dumb Guys Facebook account - and he would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for the fact he typed a status update that wasn't all in upper-case!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There must be more to this................

        Do us a favour and don't give that arsehole BDG any more attention, eh?

        1. Alex Rose

          Re: There must be more to this................

          You do all realise that BDG and BDG's wife are some sociology student's experiment into just how gullible people are when faced with a hyperbolic example of their own prejudices?

          Don't you?

          DON'T YOU?

      2. Big Dumb Guys Wife

        Re: There must be more to this................



        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The trolls are strong with this one.

          Obi-one Ka-troll-bi, you're, my only troll...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There must be more to this................

      The PCeU statement says that as well as unauthorised access, he was done for "...unauthorised acts with intent to impair operation of or prevent/hinder access to a computer", which suggests that he did something when he got in (though it might have been something as simple as changing the account password, I suppose).

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Digital equivalent of breaking and entering.

    Which is separate to theft. Both of which would have carried smaller sentences in the physical world.

    If we can draw these parallels then surely the sentences should be somewhat similar.

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: Digital equivalent of breaking and entering.

      If you want to draw those comparisons, keep going...

      If the password is weak, say "password", couldn't you then claim the door wasn't even locked... So you just walked in? It then become trespass, a civil, not criminal offence in the UK.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Digital equivalent of breaking and entering.

        Thanks to nu-labour and cronies (made entirely of politicians who are/were lawyers or very closely related to them), pretty much everything in the UK is now a criminal offence and not civil.

      2. lotus49
        Thumb Down

        Re: Digital equivalent of breaking and entering.

        That is not correct.

        Trespass is merely wandering onto property without permission. Breaking and entering involves the use of force (which may only be sufficient to push open an unlocked door) to enter a property without permission with the intention of committing a further offence, usually theft.

        Consequently, it's still breaking and entering (and therefore criminal) rather than trespass (which, as you rightly point out, is a civil offense) even if the door is unlocked if you do so with the intention of stealing something.

      3. lotus49
        Thumb Down

        Re: Digital equivalent of breaking and entering.

        Also, the Computer Misuse Act prohibits using computer systems without authorisation regardless of whether you had to crack/guess a password. Even if there were no password at all but you knew you were not authorised to access something, it would be a breach of the Act (quite rightly in my view).

      4. Stevie

        Re: Digital equivalent of breaking and entering.

        Ah, but it would trespass in a USA house without the proper immigration paperwork, which is a Homeland Security matter (assuming the boob wasn't shot under the umbrella of various states' "justifiable self defence" statute).

        He's lucky he wasn't sent somewhere for a manicure with extreme prejudice.

        In any event, he wasn't supposed to be there, it was against the law in both countries, is well-known to be against the law and the obvious path if you can't face a spell in jankers iis therefore clearly seen to be "do not do this sort of thing".

  15. Rovindi

    I agree with many on here, the term seems unusually severe. Apart from the fact that he`ll only serve at 30% before being turfed out and given tag/home custody, it just seems a tad severe. A mate of mine in the UK got done last year for dealing wadges of mary-jane and despite previous for being a bit vicious/fighty in his youth, he got six months and served only three.

    It`s all a bit inconsistent.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All those having a good laugh, get more for nicking a packet of Toffos down the corner shop, etc, just be thankful this prick decided to play around Facebook where bugger all actually matters and not go after bank accounts or Paypal accounts, there's enough arseholes doing that already. Hopefully locking a few of these lesser pricks up first will make a few more think twice, though somehow I doubt it as the rewards are probably too great!

    Don't come up with that crap about "Well people should have better passwords." or "FB should have better security demands.", yes granted they should but saying my window locks were easily broken by a bloody great crowbar still makes ratboy a piece of scum for breaking and entering my property!

  17. Marty

    the question that hasn’t been asked, if it was a British persons facebook account hacked, and you went to the police to report it, the most likelihood is that you will get told to fuck off....

    I went to the police about my stolen mobile phone that was taken from inside my house... I found out who it was, a list of witnesses who had seen the person with the phone, a list of people the person had called, a witness who had seen the person hanging around in the morning, and also running out of the block of flats around the time my phone went missing. they had called their own home number and the next door neighbours phone.... I handed them all the evidence, and they did fuck all....

    Joke, because our law enforcement and justice system is one.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Make a formal complaint to the IPCC

      1) Ask them to tell you why nothing happened. 2) Ask them to review the file presented to the CPS and to give an opinion as to the quality of that file.

      1. Marty

        Re: @Marty

        To be honest, this happened quite a few years ago when my nokia 3310 was a top of the range phone lol..

        another factor that would have been taken into account was the fact the little scroat was a 9 year old girl....the youngest daughter in the family of the lowest bunch of scumbags in the area. one person who had previously reported them to the plod was later stabbed in the led with a fork.... add to that, the witness who seen her with the phone was a distent relitive through marrage (my sisters, husbands, farthers, second wifes daughter) and was only 14 herself... she would proberbly have been intimidated enough to withdraw her statement, without that it would have been dificult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.....

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had the sentence for a real world crime such as mugging been greater, then sure, but, this, this is just :/

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Correction: 6 months in the clink

    UK discount. Sentenced to 12 months usually means 6 months actually spent in prison.


    12 months for hacking one Facebook account?

    Where would that leave BT/Phorm then?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    isn;t the punishment supposed to match the crime/damage as opposed to say "sending a warning"

    mars bar stealer sentenced to life for example

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dumb as a rock

    Phuck around, go to prison. You lose.

  23. h3

    Wonder what the law is on posting goatse / lemonparty / tubgirl etc etc on someones facebook feed (That they leave logged in on my computer despite repeated instructions to the contrary).

    As far as I am concerned (and have explicitly stated) leave it on my computer and I will do this. (Only thing that sort of seems to work at all).

  24. Jason Hindle

    Harsh but not inconsistent

    Another example of how the law, and sentencing in this country is often distorted by knee jerk legislation. However, the sentence seems to be consistent with other cases of computer misuse so I wouldn't think the judge was going out of his way to be unfair.

  25. Local Group

    I know there's a connection here, but what?

    Court sentences Crosskey on Wednesday May 16 to 12 months in the slammer for hacking facebook.

    facebook's troubled initial public offering is Friday May 18; it needs all the positive spin it can get.

    Just a weird coincidence, right?

  26. h3

    Another thing I don't get is the relative sentencing between this and the original phone hacking thing. (How is one Facebook account worse than a lot of peoples phones ?)

    (Also seems to be worse than burglary from the odd persons I have known to be sentenced for that).

    Another person I know got 6 months for supply of class A drugs (E's) this is probably 10 years ago.

    Just doesn't seem fair or proportionate in any shape or form.

  27. Joe 48

    Don't worry, hack facebooks core network and you'll only get 8!!

    Say no more.

  28. Jeffrey Jefferson
    Thumb Down

    The UK seriously needs a better justice system..

    Plead guilty and you've halved your time, good behavior and you've halved it again! 3 months for rape and 6 months for that?!? I'm baffled.

  29. Jeffrey Jefferson


    3 years**

  30. Barrie Shepherd

    I suspect that the reason this was handled in the UK was to protect the identity of the person whose account was hacked. It's probable that if the case was heard in the US the identity would have to have been revealed . There must be more to this than reported.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Who's account was hacked ?

      I agree with this.

      I want to know the name of the victim in this case.

      If the ase was heard in open court then why isn't the victims name published ?

      If there is a specific order that the victims name isn't published then I suspect it might be some high profile person and this in itself is evidence of a two tier justice system.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If in denial...

    ...the judicial system will set you straight.

  32. ZenCoder

    I bet the real crime was ..

    The police in general can't be bothered with minor crimes so I'm betting the real crime is messing with an important person.

    I'm also guessing that if said important person had their house broken into, mobile phone stolen, punched in the face ... the police response would also be much different than when the same crime happens to us ordinary unimportant folk.

  33. JaitcH

    Why hack Facebook?

    Wit a little patience FBs security will fail again and display all the goodies OR they will be sold off to advertisers.

    FB and security / privacy should not be used in the same sentence.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All those FBI/police hours spent on this?

    Seriously? There's so many unsolved murders, rape cases and so on. And they're spending that much time on something as trivial as this?

    Break into a facebook account and get a year in Jail. Break into someones house and get a slap on the wrist. What nonsense!

    Reminds me when I was at school. You could smash a set of lockers to hell and get sent home for the day, but if you dared to fuck with a computer BIOS then you better be ready for suspension!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The WizDUMB of hacking

    They just don't get it...

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