The family home of Bryan Hamade
The Gwinnett County man accused of leaking hundreds of nude celebrity photos says he’s not a hacker — just “an idiot.”
Over the weekend, naked photos reportedly showing several female celebrities — including Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence, supermodel Kate Upton and gymnast McKayla Maroney — surfaced online. The pictures are believed to have been accessed by a hacker digging through the iCloud, an Apple storage program that allows users to sync content between phones, computers, tablets and other devices.
According to various reports, the culprit may be Bryan Hamade, a 27-year-old software engineer from Lawrenceville.
Hamade, who graduated from Collins Hill High School in 2005, was identified as responsible for the massive leak by members of the online community on the website Reddit. According to BuzzFeed, those users “went through Hamade’s previous Reddit posts and recognized the hard drive and PC name” as the same one tied to the original leaks.
The Daily Post’s attempts to contact Hamade were unsuccesful Tuesday, but the Lawrenceville resident reportedly denied the claims in a phone interview with BuzzFeed.
Hamade said he wasn’t behind the post that originally appeared on an online “imageboard” called 4chan, and that the accusations arose from his desire for bitcoins, a digital currency.
“I am not behind this,” Hamade told BuzzFeed in a story published Monday. “It was so stupid — I saw a lot of people posting the actual leaks and bitcoin addresses and I’ve read a lot about bitcoin and how they are valuable and I thought, oh cool I’ll get free bitcoins.”
Hamade told the publication that he tried to sell images, which had already been leaked.
“I am just an idiot who tried to pull one over on 4chan and lost big time and stupidly left this identifying information. They took my proof and back traced it — it isn’t remotely true. I am not a hacker. I have no idea how the hell someone could hack into all those accounts.”
Hamade has deleted all of his social media accounts. He reportedly works as a server administrator at a company called Southern Digital Media, the address of which is listed as that of his parents’ home in Lawrenceville’s Highland Oaks subdivision.
A call to a number believed to be Hamade’s cellphone went directly to voicemail Tuesday. Calls to his parents’ house went unanswered as news trucks gathered outside.
Neighbors Fiona Fraley, 17, and Chris Atkins, 16, said they were surprised about the accusations against Hamade.
“They’re quiet people,” Fraley said, adding that Hamade “just had a baby girl.” “They don’t talk very much. If you see them on the street and say hello they’re nice, but other than that, they keep to themselves.”
Added Atkins: “They’re generally very nice people.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Monday that it was investigating the leak. An email to the FBI’s Atlanta field office, specifically referencing Hamade, netted only the following statement: “The FBI is aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter. Any further comment would be inappropriate at this time.”
Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said Tuesday that, if there is an investigation into Hamade, his department is not part of it.
“GCPD isn’t participating in any sort of investigation into Bryan Hamade at this point,” Smith said. “We have not been contacted by the FBI or any other agency for assistance.”
Hamade, meanwhile, maintained that he wasn’t the original hacker but told BuzzFeed that he regretted his attempt to profit from the photos.
He was reportedly seeking to hire an attorney.
“I regret it so much,” Hamade told BuzzFeed. “I didn’t even get any bitcoin out of it. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve done and I hope it won’t ruin my life, though it probably will since it’s just the biggest news story.”
Hamade’s only criminal history in Gwinnett involves a 2008 arrest for allegedly driving without insurance and with a suspended registration, as well as failure to appear at a previous court date.
The hacked photos included images of more than 100 female celebrities, including Lawrence (best known for roles in “Silver Linings Playbook” and the “Hunger Games” franchise), Upton, Selena Gomez and Kirsten Dunst. Some of the alleged victims, like former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney and Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice, have called the photos fakes.