Taken into custody earlier today, 35-year-old Christopher Chaney of Jacksonville, Florida was arrested for hacking into the email account of Scarlett Johansson and distributing nude photos that the actress had taken of herself. The FBI was called into investigate this crime in September 2011. This arrest was related to an 11-month investigation that the FBI are calling “Operation Hackerazzi”. Federal authorities also identified fifty more celebrity victims of Chaney, but only identified Christina Aguilera, Mila Kunis, Simone Harouche and Renee Olstead as they agreed to public identification. Six more victims were only identified by their initials which included B.G., B.P., D.F., J.A., L.B. and L.S.
To gain access to these email accounts, Chaney would search through details of celebrity lives within magazines as well as social media accounts like Twitter and figure out possible passwords. Once Chaney cracked the password, he would setup email forwarding to send a duplicate version of all emails to his personal account. This allowed Chaney to continue receiving emails after the password was reset. Gaining access to one account also allowed Chaney to access the address book and discover more celebrity email addresses. Chaney faces 26 counts of identity theft, unauthorized access to a protected computer and wiretapping. If convicted on all counts, Chaney could receive 121 years in prison for his crimes.
In the case of Scarlett Johansson’s nude photos, Chaney distributed the photos to celebrity blog sites, but made no attempt to sell the photos. He also made attempts to distribute more private celebrity information to the same blogs, but this information hasn’t been identified yet. Chaney was released on a $10,000 bond earlier today, but several restrictions are in place for the hacker. Chaney isn’t allowed access to any computer or other device with Internet access and travel is restricted to the Middle District of Florida and Central District of California for trial purposes.
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