A celebrity phone hacker, known for leaking intimate photos of Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus and Jessica Alba among others, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Jacksonville, Florida resident Christopher Chaney, 35, plead guilty in LA Federal Court to nine counts of computer hacking and wiretapping. He gained access to over 50 celebrity e-mail accounts using known information about them from public sources. After he got into one account he would mine it for additional email addresses to break into. He also cyber-stalked non-celebrity women he personally knew, sometimes for years, and set it up so their intimate photos would be leaked to their family members. It all sounds awful, creepy and very invasive and his victims agree.
A federal judge on Monday sentenced a man who hacked into the personal online accounts of Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis and other women to 10 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge S. James Otero sentenced Christopher Chaney in Los Angeles after hearing from a tearful Johansson in a videotaped statement..
The biggest spectacle in the case was the revelation that nude photos taken by Johansson herself and meant for her then-husband Ryan Reynolds were placed on the Internet.
Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Fla., pleaded guilty to counts that included wiretapping and unauthorized access to a computer.
Chaney also targeted two women he knew, sending nude pictures of one former co-worker to her father.
The women, who both knew Chaney, said their lives have been irreparably damaged by his actions. One has anxiety and panic attacks; the other is depressed and paranoid. Both say Chaney was calculated, cruel and creepy.
Their accounts as cybervictims serve as a cautionary tale for those, even major celebrities, who snap personal, and sometimes revealing photos.
Christina Aguilera said in a statement issued days before the sentencing that although she knows that she’s often in the limelight, Chaney took from her some of the private moments she shares with friends.
“That feeling of security can never be given back and there is no compensation that can restore the feeling one has from such a large invasion of privacy,” Aguilera said.
Prosecutors said Chaney illegally accessed the email accounts of more than 50 people in the entertainment industry between November 2010 and October 2011. Aguilera, Kunis and Johansson agreed to have their identities made public with the hopes that the exposure about the case would provide awareness about online intrusion.
Some of Aguilera’s photos appeared online after Chaney sent an email from the account of her stylist, Simone Harouche, to Aguilera asking the singer for scantily clad photographs, prosecutors said.
Chaney was arrested in October 2011 as part of a yearlong investigation of celebrity hacking that authorities dubbed “Operation Hackerazzi.” Chaney’s computer hard drive contained numerous private celebrity photos and a document that compiled their extensive personal data, according to a search warrant.
I feel for the victims, especially the everyday women who were unfortunate enough to get targeted by this guy. What I want to know is whose nude photos were leaked by this creep, and who leaked their own. Like was Blake Lively his target, or did someone else release her photos? I know that Vanessa Hudgen’s pictures pre-date this. Also, the government wants to send a message to would-be email hackers that this type of hacking won’t be tolerated and will come with stiff penalties.
Technically speaking, Yahoo! email account used to be easier to crack than Gmail or Hotmail I believe. Like Yahoo! had ridiculously easy security reset questions that could be guessed with known information about a person. They weren’t secure at all. I think that they’ve revamped their security measures in the past couple of years though, following some high profile hacking cases.
Photo credit: FameFlynet