MANHATTAN – The FBI is asking for the public’s help as it continues to investigate a New York City man arrested Thursday on charges of hacking into multiple people’s Snapchat accounts, stealing nude photos and then sending those photos to other Snapchat users to try to get them to send nude photos to him in return.
David Mondore, 29, was arrested in Manhattan Thursday morning on charges of unauthorized access to computer systems in furtherance of any criminal act in violation of state law, unauthorized access to a protected computer in furtherance of fraud and aggravated identity theft.
According to the criminal complaint against him, Mondore is accused of hacking into two people’s Snapchat accounts – one a female student at SUNY Geneseo, the other a male resident of the Northern District of New York, a 32-county region that stretches from New York’s border with Massachusetts and New Hampshire, west to Cayuga County.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI was notified Dec. 5, 2019, that the Snapchat account of a SUNY Geneseo student, identified in court documents only as “Victim 1,” had been compromised.
Victim 1 told authorities she’d received a message from an acquaintance. This acquaintance asked Victim 1 for her Snapchat login credentials so that they could check and see if they had been blocked by another Snapchat user.
Victim 1 provided the credentials and, soon after, received a text message that purported to be from Snapchat security indicating her account had been locked and that she needed to provide a pin number to unlock it. The text message also advised that the pin requested would be the same pin used for Victim l’s “My Eyes Only” folder in her Snapchat account.
Victim 1 replied and provided the pin number for the folder.
Shortly thereafter, Victim 1 received an authentic email from Snapchat, telling her that a new device had accessed her account and that the email address associated with her account had been changed. At this point, Victim 1 was unable to gain access to her Snapchat account.
Victim 1 was later made aware that the person who had gained access to her account sent an explicit photo of her to 116 Snapchat users on her friends list. The photo was captioned “Flash me back if we are besties.” Four of Victim 1’s friends responded, sending explicit pictures of themselves.
During an interview with the FBI, Victim 1 said multiple people from her hometown had their Snapchat accounts hacked in a similar way. Most, if not all, of these hacking victims attended Bethlehem High School in Delmar, Albany County, Victim 1 told the FBI
One of those hacking victims filed a police report of his own Dec. 7, 2019. He is identified in court documents as “Victim 2.” His hacking experience followed a similar trajectory as Victim 1’s.
In Victim 2’s case, after Mondore gained access to his Snapchat account, Mondore is accused of sending a nude photo of Victim 2 to 11 other Snapchat users along with the caption “send a nude back.” According to the criminal complaint against him, Mondore also engaged in chats with Snapchat users in an attempt to elicit nude photos from them.
Investigators eventually traced the phone numbers purporting to send text messages from Snapchat security and the IP addresses used to hack into the victims’ Snapchat accounts to Mondore, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. A search of Mondore’s iCloud account also revealed the explicit photos of victims 1 and 2, according to the Attorney’s Office.
Stephen Belongia, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Buffalo Field Office, called Mondore’s alleged crimes “predatory” and said they’re all too familiar to the FBI.
“Here, and across the globe, we have witnessed hackings coupled with exploitation and extortion, and our agents and analysts are acutely focused on attacking this cyber-related criminal behavior,” Belongia said. “I thank the brave victims in this case who, although terrorized, came forward and reported what happened to them. And while it must have been difficult to do, by coming forward they were instrumental in keeping future names off Mondore’s long list of alleged victims.”
James P. Kennedy Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, said this case should serve as a cautionary tale about the kind of people who use social media for their own, criminal ends.
“As alleged, defendant engaged in multiple manipulative techniques in order to hack his way into the accounts of social media users so that he could get what he was after - explicit photographs of those users,” Kennedy said. “While it may sound mundane, my advice is pretty simple and it applies whether you are communicating online or over the phone - do not share your personal information, especially your passwords, with anyone.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the unauthorized access charges against Mondore carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two years in prison, which must be served consecutive to any penalty imposed on other charges.
Mondore was scheduled to make an initial court appearance Thursday afternoon in the Southern District of New York and will be transferred to the Western District of New York at a later date.
Maureen Dempsey, public affairs officer for the FBI’s Buffalo Field Office, said the Bureau’s investigation into Mondore is ongoing. She urged anyone who believes their Snapchat account was compromised in a similar manner to call the FBI at (716) 856-7800.