Updated: Monday, May 21, 9:30 a.m. ET: Media reports say that the hacked Facebook account belonged to American actress and pop star Selena Gomez. Details at the end of this story.
A British man has been sentenced to 12 months behind bars for hacking into a Facebook account and illegally accessing the victim's emails.
Gareth Crosskey, 21, was jailed on Wednesday for an incident in January 2011, when he hacked into an unnamed American's Facebook profile, London's Metropolitan Police said in its press release.
Crosskey was arrested at his home in West Sussex, a coastal county in south of London. Law-enforcement agents removed computers and other storage devices from his home during the raid.
Following the breach, which was reported to the FBI, Crosskey was released on bail. The FBI traced Crosskey's Facebook hack to the U.K, and on Feb. 29, he was brought back to court, where he pleaded guilty to two counts of illegally accessing data, both violations of the Computer Misuse Act.
British police stressed that Crosskey's jail term should serve as a warning that authorities will take swift action, and levy strong penalties, against anyone who follows in his footsteps.
"Today's result should act as a deterrent to any individuals thinking of participating in this type of criminal activity," police wrote.
To help keep your Facebook profile secure and private, make sure you're running anti-virus software and anti-spyware software on your computer and your mobile phone. Follow this guide to set your smartphone's social privacy settings.
UPDATE: The Sun newspaper in England reported Monday that the Facebook account Crosskey broke into belonged to American actress and pop star Selena Gomez.
The Sun reported that Crosskey posed as Gomez's stepfather, the administrator of her Facebook page, and persuaded Facebook staffers to reset the administrative password on the account. The newspaper also reported that Crosskey wrote "Justin Bieber sucks!" on Gomez's page, prompting a deluge of angry comments from the Canadian pop star's fans.
Gomez and Bieber, who had begun dating, had not made their relationship public at the time.
A YouTube video detailing the account takeover was allegedly posted by Crosskey, using the hacker handle "PkinJ0r." The video shows someone gaining control of Gomez's Facebook page and entering text into various fields.
However, none of the new information is saved, and the maker of the video writes in one field as he films, "I won't actually be posting anything ... Due to it's her page and I'm not that much of a [jerk]."
The video maker made one telling error, which may have led to Crosskey's arrest.
During the filming of the video, a Windows Live pop-up window appears alerting the video maker that a friend has logged into the service.
A Google search of the friend's name shows that he appears to be another young man from West Sussex. Crosskey and the other man are friends with each other and with members of each other's families on Facebook.
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