He goes by the online monikers “cam0,” “Freak,” and “leetjones.” But you might know him as the guy who hacked Burger King’s Twitter account, to claim the fast-food chain was bought by its rival McDonald’s. He is also known as the guy who hacked Paris Hilton’s phone and publicly posted racy photos of the socialite.
On Monday, 25-year-old Cameron Lacroix apologized for his crimes, telling a federal judge that he recognized the seriousness of what he thought was innocuous computer hacking. Lacroix pleaded for mercy as he was about to be sentenced for computer fraud.
“My actions let a lot of people down,” Lacroix told US District Court Senior Judge Mark L. Wolf.
“I grew up as a person,” Lacroix said, reading from a prepared statement, his arms flailing. “I know in my head I shouldn’t be doing this.”
Lacroix, of New Bedford, pleaded guilty in June to several counts of hacking from 2012 to 2013, which included accessing the computer accounts of three professors at Bristol Community College in New Bedford and changing grades for himself and two friends. He also hacked into a local police chief’s e-mail account, and into a local police department’s database, to see if he was under investigation. Lacroix also obtained stolen credit card data from 14,000 accounts.
Wolf sentenced Lacroix Monday to four years in federal prison for those crimes.
Lacroix also has an ongoing federal case alleging that he hacked into several Twitter accounts, including accounts for Jeep and Burger King. According to court records, Lacroix has said that he plans to plead guilty to those crimes as well.
Lacroix has already served two years in state prison for credit card and gift card fraud, and he also served time in federal juvenile prison, related to hacking the phone of Paris Hilton.
Despite those past sentences, Assistant US Attorney Adam Bookbinder lamented in court Monday that Lacroix has failed “to get the message.”
“This is a person committing serious crimes,” Bookbinder said.
Lacroix’s attorney, Behzad Mirhashem, pointed out that Lacroix has been cooperating with the FBI, to teach agents how he was able to breach the various computer networks.
Lacroix has also been seeking treatment for depression and an opiate addiction. His lawyer said he had a tough upbringing: His mother died of a drug overdose when Lacroix was young, he had a fragile relationship with his father, and he dropped out of high school. He also sought to get high from drugs and the adrenaline of computer hacking, his lawyer said.
“He was getting the rush from the discovery that he was capable of doing these things, but he is capable of so much more,” Mirhashem told the judge.
Wolf agreed. He told Lacroix that he had committed serious crimes, noting that it was his third time before a federal judge, but pointed out, “It took talent to commit the crime you committed; very few people could do it.”
“You obviously have a lot of talent, [but] you’ve misused it, you’ve abused it,” Wolf admonished, adding, “Life is not a video game.”
Lacroix’s four-year prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release. During that time, he cannot use a computer or access the Internet.
“You should have known it was dumb; you’ve been caught before,” Wolf said.
Milton J. Valencia can be reached at email@example.com.