Celebrity 'Hackerazzi': I was relieved when I got caught
Christopher Chaney, the man arrested on Wednesday by FBI for hacking into emails and illegally obtaining online private data of celebrities, including actresses Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis and singer Christina Aguilera, claims that he is glad that he got caught because he didn't know how to stop hacking.
"It started as curiosity and it turned into just being addicted to seeing behind the scenes of what was going on with these people you see on the big screen every day," Chaney told Fox 30: Action News Jacksonville. "I was almost relieved months ago when they (the police) came in, took my computer, and told me what was going on, that they knew - because I didn't know how to stop doing it myself."
Chaney, 35, was apprehended on Wednesday, October 12, following an investigation dubbed "Operation Hackerazzi." He was taken into custody and released on a $10,000 bond.
He faces federal charges of accessing protected computers without authorization, damaging protected computers without authorization, wiretapping and aggravated identity theft, the bureau said in a statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com.
"I don't know. I wasn't attempting to break into emails and get stuff to sell or purposefully put on the Internet," Chaney continued. "I've always used computers - you know, gaming, Facebook, the things everybody uses computers for. Honestly, I don't remember how or when it started, or with who it started. It just happened and snowballed."
If convicted on all counts, Chaney faces a maximum penalty of 121 years in federal prison. He told the local news station that he intends to plead guilty.
The bust occurred weeks after nude photos of Johansson, suspected to have been stolen from her cell phone, were posted online. The FBI has been investigating reports of alleged hacking of phones and email accounts of several celebrities since 2010.
"I deeply apologize (to the victims)," Chaney added. "I know what I did was probably one of the worst invasions of privacy someone could experience, and these people don't have privacy to begin with. I was in that slither of privacy that they do have. And I have had six months to think about it and it eats at me."
Chaney is suspected of using several aliases, such as "trainreqsuckswhat," "anonygrrl" and "jaxjaguars911," to illegally obtain personal information about more than 50 celebrities, both male and female.
Aside from Johansson, Kunis and Aguilera, other celebrity victims include fashion designer Simone Harouche, "Still Standing" actress Renee Olstead and others identified by initials - B.P., J.A., L.B., L.S., D.F. and B.G., the 26-count FBI indictment states.
Investigators believe that between November 2010 and February 2011, Chaney researched the stars using publicly-available sources and then hacked into their email accounts. He then allegedly obtained private data, including photos, and distributed some of it to celebrity websites. The FBI also believes he obtained emails of other celebrities by looking through address books.
Following his arrest, Chaney appeared before a judge at a U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Florida and is due to return on Friday, October 14, for an identity hearing. Meanwhile, he is not allowed to access the Internet.
Johansson talked about her nude photo scandal last month, telling CNN: "Just because you're in the spotlight or just because you're an actor or make films or whatever doesn't mean you're not entitled to your own personal privacy. If that is sieged in some way, it feels unjust. It feels wrong."
"Gossip Girl" actress Blake Lively was also the target of a nude photo scandal in May. Pictures featuring a naked woman who resembled the actress appeared online weeks before the release of her new film "Green Lantern," which stars Johansson's ex-husband Ryan Reynolds.
Also earlier this year, a fresh batch of nude photos of actress Vanessa Hudgens also surfaced online. Her attorney said the actress was very upset about the leak. The former star of Disney's "High School Musical" franchise had apologized to her young fans in 2007 after a first group of naked pictures of her hit the Internet.
Watch Chaney's interview with Fox 30: Action News Jacksonville below.