Federal authorities have arrested and charged a 35-year old Florida man for allegedly hacking dozens of Hollywood celebrities, including breaking into Scarlett Johansson’s phone and leaking nude pictures of her to the internet.
Christopher Chaney of Jacksonville, Florida, was charged with 26 counts of accessing protected computers without authorization, identity theft, damaging protected computers without authorization, and wiretapping.
Other prominent victims included Christina Aguilera, Mila Kunis, Simone Harouche and Renee Olstead. The FBI says Chaney hacked into the accounts of more than 50 people in the entertainment industry.
The FBI says Chaney used publicly available data about his victims to help him break into their e-mail accounts. For most victims he would then secretly set a forwarding address so every incoming e-mail would be forwarded to an account he controlled.
Chaney allegedly broke into Johansson’s Yahoo account in December 2010, just a month after he’d gotten into Harouche and Augilera’s accounts at Apple’s Me.com email service.
Photos that Johansson took of herself in the nude appeared online in early September, as did photos showing Kunis and Justin Timberlake in intimate settings. Chaney allegedly offered the photos to celebrity-focused blogs, though the indictment doesn’t say if Chaney attempted to sell the photos.
Chaney faces a maximum possible sentence of 121 years in prison. He was arrested in Florida on Wednesday morning and the U.S. District Attorney’s office in Los Angeles want to have him transferred to L.A. for trial.
The FBI says the arrest is part of Operation Hackerazzi, a crackdown on hackers who have been targeting celebrities.
Chaney allegedly used the handle “trainreqsuckswhat,” a clear reference to Trainreq, a 21-year old hacker named Josh Holly who broke into Miley Cyrus’ e-mail account and posted provocative stolen pictures of her online. Holly pled guilty in August to credit card fraud and spam attacks that originated from celebrities’ hacked MySpace accounts. Chaney also allegedly used the handles “anonygrrl” and “jaxjaguars911?.
Photo: In this Feb. 27, 2011 file photo Actress Scarlett Johansson arrives at the 83rd Academy Awards in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (AP/Chris Carlson)