- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2020

Two men accused of participating in a hacking scheme whose victims included professional football and basketball players face related criminal charges announced by federal prosecutors Wednesday.

Trevontae Washington, 21, of Thibodaux, Louisiana, and Ronnie Magrehbi, 20, of Orlando, Florida, each appeared in court after the charges were revealed and were granted bond by federal magistrates.

Both men are accused by prosecutors of participating in a hacking scheme that targeted the email and social media accounts of multiple semi-professional and professional athletes throughout the U.S.

Criminal complaints filed in each of the cases allege the defendants and others gained unauthorized access to the accounts and then “used or attempted to use that access for their personal financial gain,” such as by selling access to others to further exploit those accounts or have ammunition for extortion.

Accounts belonging to two NFL athletes and a NBA player were successfully compromised during the course of the scheme, according to prosecutors.

Court filings do not name any of the targets or victims, but previous reporting indicates former New York Giants defensive end Avery Moss is among the two NFL athletes who were hacked.

Explicit images of Mr. Moss were posted by the player’s Twitter account on June 4, 2018, ESPN reported at the time, days after the athlete announced that his Instagram account had been hacked.

Court filings describe one of the hacking victims as a NFL player living in New Jersey at the time who suffered an identical fate around then, Ars Technica first reported this week.

Mr. Washington was arrested on related charges nearly a year later in April 2019 and, according to the criminal complaint filed in his case, effectively confessed to participating in the scheme.

“Washington admitted to using phishing techniques to fraudulently acquire passwords associated with social media and email accounts belonging to victims of the scheme,” the criminal complaint reads in part. “Washington stated that after taking over the victim accounts, he sold access to the accounts to others for between approximately $500 and $1000 per account.”

Bryan DeBon, a U.S. Secret Service special agent involved in the case, stated in an affidavit that Mr. Washington is suspected of hacking the accounts likely belonging to Mr. Moss in May 2018.

Authorities have connected Mr. Magrehbi to multiple online accounts connected with an attempt to extort the athlete that took place in the days afterward and culminated in the images being leaked.

Both men have been charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Magistrates ordered their conditional release.

Roger L. Weeden, a defense attorney for Mr. Magrehbi, declined to comment on the case when reached Thursday. A lawyer representing Mr. Washington did not immediately respond to a similar inquiry.

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