FBI charges man in Hollywood celebrity hacking case

Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:03pm EDT
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By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Federal officials on Wednesday arrested a Florida man and charged him with 26 counts of cyber-related crimes against Hollywood celebrities following an 11-month federal probe dubbed "Operation Hackerazzi."

Victims included actresses Scarlett Johansson, "Black Swan" star Mila Kunis and pop singer Christina Aguilera, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Dept officials said.

Christopher Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Florida, was arrested Wednesday morning by FBI agents and accused of hacking celebrities' personal e-mail accounts and then later distributing some of the illegally obtained files, including nude photos that were ultimately posted online.

"Cybercrime not only affects the rich and famous but everyone," said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte, Jr, in announcing the arrest, but noted that the fame of this case's victims brought the issue home to many.

He commended Johansson, Kunis and Aguilera for releasing their names. "We had a positive working relationship...They agreed to have their names released, to have a deterrent impact. It sends out a message," he said.

Other victims were identified by initials only, including B.P., J.A., L.B. and L.S.

In September, "Iron Man 2" star Johansson joined a list of Hollywood celebrities including film star Jessica Alba, who have had private photos leaked online at the hands of hackers.

In the Johansson photos, the 26 year-old actress was shown in a towel with an exposed backside, while another showed her topless. The pictures were posted on several celebrity gossip websites before eventually being taken down.   Continued...

<p>Actress Scarlett Johansson poses for photographers on the catwalk before the Dolce &amp; Gabbana Spring/Summer 2012 women's collection during Milan Fashion Week September 25, 2011. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo</p>