A Florida-based computer hacker was arrested Wednesday by FBI for allegedly infiltrating the emails of Hollywood stars including Scarlett Johansson, naked pictures of whom appeared online last month.
As a result of an 11-month FBI investigation into hacking of over 50 victims in the entertainment industry, including actresses Christina Aguilera and Mila Kunis, Christopher Chaney, 35, was arrested in Jacksonville, Fla.
On conditions including no access to a computer or other device with Internet access, the suspect was released on $10,000 bond to appear in a court in Florida again Friday.
It is expected that he will be transferred to face trial in Los Angeles. He can face up to 121 years in prison if convicted on 26 indictments, which will include accessing and damaging computers, wire tapping and identity theft.
It was in last December when Aguilera's computer was hacked and photos of her hit the Internet. In September, Kunis' cell phone was hacked to access photos of her, including one in a bathtub, to be spread online.
In mid-September, the hacked pictures of Johansson appeared showing her in a state of undress in a home setting. In one, she had a towel wrapped round herself with her face to the camera, her unclothed rear view clearly visible in a mirror. In other photos she was topless, and apparently photographed herself with a smartphone camera, taking at least one shot on a bed.
Chaney's elaborate system of hacking celebrity e-mail accounts was explained by FBI officials. First of all, Chaney allegedly used open-source, public information to try to guess a celebrity's e-mail password and breached the account. He allegedly communicated directly with contacts found in the hacked email's address list and would also search the account for photos, information and other data.
To control the account, Chaney allegedly altered the e-mail's account settings to go to a separate, unrelated e-mail address that he controlled. After gaining complete access to the hacked account, Chaney then used the contact list to harvest new targets, the FBI said.