Arizona man arrested for hacking email
accounts at universities
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[November 03, 2016]
By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Arizona man was
arrested on Wednesday on charges that he hacked into over 1,000 email
accounts for students and others at two universities, including Pace
University in New York, and tried to do the same at 75 other
Jonathan Powell, a 29-year-old Phoenix resident, was arrested based on a
criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan charging him with
fraud in connection with computers, according to prosecutors.
According to the complaint, Powell used password reset tools to try to
access thousands of email accounts at two universities in New York and
Pennsylvania, successfully changing the passwords for 1,050 accounts.
Prosecutors said he went on to compromise social media and other
accounts at online services such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google that
were linked to the university email accounts, and mined those accounts
for users' confidential information.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Powell also searched their
photos for "potentially embarrassing content". In one instance, he
searched a students' Gmail account using the key words "naked" and
"horny", the complaint said.
"This case should serve as a wakeup call for universities and
educational institutions around the country," Bharara said in a
A lawyer for Powell did not respond to a request for comment. He was
arrested in Arizona on Wednesday morning and released following a
hearing in federal court in Phoenix later in the day, according to court
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While authorities did not name the universities at issue, Pace
University confirmed in a statement it was the New York university
mentioned in the complaint. In the statement Pace University said it
contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bharara's office
after discovering the security breach.
The biggest victim in the case appeared to be Pace University, where
according to prosecutors, Powell since at least October 2015
attempted to change the password for 2,054 accounts, succeeding with
1,035 of them.
In September, he tried to change email passwords for 220 of the
Pennsylvania university's accounts, succeeding with 15, prosecutors
He also accessed student directories and login portals for more than
75 other colleges, they said.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in NEW YORK; Editing by Chris Reese and
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