Ex-Yahoo engineer pleads guilty to hacking thousands of accounts

The man used his work access to search Yahoo accounts for private materials before branching out to Facebook, Gmail and other accounts, prosecutors said.
Yahoo's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California.
Yahoo's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California.Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP file

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By Alex Johnson

A former Yahoo software engineer pleaded guilty Monday to hacking into the accounts of thousands of Yahoo users while looking for sexual images and videos, according to federal prosecutors and court documents.

Reyes Daniel Ruiz, 34, of Tracy, California, could face up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the single count of computer intrusion, prosecutors said. He was free on $200,000 bond pending a Feb. 3 sentencing hearing, prosecutors said.

U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson said in a statement that Ruiz admitted to having used his work access to internal Yahoo systems to hack into about 6,000 Yahoo accounts, targeting accounts belonging to younger women, including his personal friends and work colleagues.

Once he had access to the Yahoo accounts, Ruiz then used the hacked credentials to break into the users' iCloud, Facebook, Gmail, DropBox and online accounts looking for more sensitive images and videos, Anderson said.

When Yahoo noticed his activity, he destroyed the computer and the hard drive on which he'd been storing the stolen materials, Anderson said.

The indictment, which was handed up in April in U.S. District Court in San Jose, was originally sealed, and many details remained unavailable in the court record Monday. Those that were available alleged that Ruiz hacked the accounts in May and June of last year.