LOS ANGELES – A former NASA contractor was sentenced today to 57 months in federal prison for hacking into the email, social media accounts and computers of women he knew and then using the information, including nude photographs of the women, to anonymously threaten and harass them for additional explicit pictures.
Richard Gregory Bauer, 28, who resides in the Mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles, was sentenced by United States District Judge John F. Walter, who called the crimes “disgusting and harmful.”
Bauer pleaded guilty in October to federal charges of stalking, computer hacking and aggravated identity theft. In a plea agreement filed in this case, Bauer admitted that he spent years obtaining unauthorized access to the online accounts of his victims, who included family, friends, high school and college acquaintances, co-workers and friends of friends.
Bauer’s “crimes represent a long-running course of behavior, not a one-off event, or for that matter a brief spree,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
Starting in early 2015 and continuing through early 2018, Bauer sent his victims anonymous online messages that threatened to publish their nude photographs on the Internet or to the victims’ family and co-workers if they did not send him additional explicit pictures of themselves. As part of the threats, Bauer included in his emails details that made it clear he knew about his victims’ lives, work and families, according to the sentencing memorandum.
Bauer targeted his victims using two methods. In some cases, he used his true identity and contacted victims on Facebook, posing a series of questions purportedly as part of a “human societies” project he claimed he was working on for a class. Some of the questions included ones frequently used to reset online passwords, including the name of the city where your parents met, the name of your first pet, or the brand and model of your first car. In reality, there was no class and Bauer then used the information he obtained to reset passwords, and to gain access to his victims’ online accounts, primarily cloud-based iPhone backups. From those backups, he gathered his victims’ photographs, videos and documents containing passwords for their other accounts.
Other times, Bauer again used his true identity and convinced his victims to install malware that he claimed was software he had written and needed help testing. Once the malware had been installed on the victims’ computers, Bauer used it to harvest account logins, passwords, photographs and videos from his victims’ compromised computers.
Bauer is a former contractor at NASA’s Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center, an aeronautical research center located at Edwards Air Force Base. He is a former resident of the High Desert communities of Lancaster and Palmdale.
This case was investigated by NASA’s Office of Inspector General.
This matter was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Khaldoun Shobaki of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section.