Federal authorities arrested and charged a 35-year-old Jacksonville, Florida man for allegedly hacking into more than 50 celebrities e-mail accounts, as well as breaking into Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johansson’s phone and leaking nude pictures of her to the Internet.
He was charged on Wednesday morning with 26 counts of accessing protected computers without authorization, identity theft, damaging protected computers without authorization, and wiretapping.
Other victims included Christina Aguilera, Mila Kunis, Simone Harouche and Renee Olstead.
His arrest was part of a crackdown on hackers who target celebrities called Operation Hackerazzi.
According to the FBI, the man used publicly available data about the celebrities to supposedly hack into their e-mail accounts. He allegedly set a secret forwarding address so that all incoming e-mails would be sent to an account he controlled.
The man is accused of hacking into Johansson’s Yahoo account in December 2010. He supposedly broke into Harouche and Augilera’s accounts at Apple’s Me.com email service a month earlier.
Nude photos of Johansson and intimate portraits of Kunis and Justin Timberlake supposedly appeared online in early September. The man is accused of offering the photos to celebrity-focused blogs. It is unknown if the man tried to sell the pictures.
The U.S. District Attorney’s office in Los Angeles wants the man transferred to L.A. for trial.
This man faces a maximum prison sentence of 121 years. Cybercrime charges like hacking and identity theft require the knowledge of technical computer skills as well as aggressive legal defense skills. Cybercrime charges should be taken very seriously as prosecutors often try and push for maximum penalties. Many charges related to hacking are made in federal court, so it is important to be vigilant in your defense.
E-mail hacking has become quite popular over the last few years because many people receive, send and store personal and private information through their e-mail accounts. According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, the Internet Crime Complaint Center Web site received 336,655 complaint submissions in 2009 regarding cybercrimes, a 22.3 percent increase compared to 2008 reports. It is important to understand that both state and federal laws govern computer hacking. Hacking crimes entail gaining unauthorized access to private information in order to commit Internet-related crimes such as credit or debit card fraud, identity theft, phishing, vandalism, intellectual property theft and other forms of cybercrime.
As always, early intervention is crucial in obtaining positive results. Different from crimes committed in person, online activity like Internet fraud can be viewed and tracked by other users including police. Computer and Internet crime consequences can include jail, state or federal prison, restitution, fines, probation and even potential loss of employment. The Florida White Collar Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are available around the clock for a free consultation, so contact us today.