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Florida Man Arrested in Celebrity Hacking Case

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Though he may be a hero to some the world over, a Florida resident was arrested Wednesday for hacking the computers and releasing information from Hollywood celebrities, including the infamous nude photos of actress Scarlett Johansson.

The FBI said Wednesday that it had arrested Christopher Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Fla. without incident in the morning on a host of cyber-related charges.

The investigation, dubbed Hackerazzi, began late in 2010, long before the Johansson shots made news.

“While the case against Mr. Chaney involves celebrities who were targeted because of their fame, this case reminds us that we are all potential victims of computer hackers,” said LA U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. in a statement.

The indictment alleges that Chaney accessed the computers, e-mail accounts and account settings of several victims, beginning November 13, 2010, through February 10, 2011.

The indictment further alleges Chaney also used the identities of some of the victims to illegally access and control computers, and in other instances, “intercepted and endeavored to intercept wire communications; specifically, e-mails and attachments.”

In most cases, Chaney accessed the administrative settings on the victims’ accounts so that all of their e-mails would automatically be forwarded to a separate e-mail account Chaney controlled, authorities said. This form of wiretapping, authorities said, allowed Chaney to continually receive victims’ e-mails even after a password had been reset.

Investigators determined that Chaney distributed some of the files he obtained illegally, including photos of celebrities, and offered them to various celebrity blog sites. Some of the illegally obtained files, including private photographs, were ultimately posted online.

“As we highlight cyber awareness during the month of October, it’s important to remember that, although these victims appear to have been targeted based on their celebrity, similar methods may be used to illegally access any one of our computers,” said Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Strict computer security should be practiced when using smart phones, laptops, desktops, iPads, or any other device that provides Internet access.”


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