Celebrity hacking case: FBI arrests suspect after 'Operation Hackerazzi' probe
The FBI has arrested a person suspected of hacking into emails and illegally obtaining online private data of celebrities, including actresses Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis and singer Christina Aguilera, following an investigation dubbed "Operation Hackerazzi."
The suspect, Florida man Christopher Chaney, 35, was taken into custody on Wednesday, October 12, 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.
He has not commented. If convicted on all counts, Chaney faces a maximum penalty of 121 years in federal prison.
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.
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.