A Florida man is expected to make his first appearance in a California courtroom Tuesday after being charged with hacking into the email accounts of celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson whose nude photos eventually landed on the Internet.
Christopher Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Fla., was indicted last month on 26 counts, including unauthorized access to a computer and wiretapping. If convicted, he faces up to 121 years in prison.
Chaney was arrested as part of a yearlong investigation of celebrity hacking that authorities dubbed “Operation Hackerazzi.”
There were more than 50 victims in the case, including Christina Aguilera, Johansson and Mila Kunis. Some nude photos taken by Johansson herself were posted on the Internet. Chaney offered some material to celebrity blog sites but there isn’t any evidence that he profited from his scheme, authorities said.
Chaney is accused of mining through publicly available data and figured out password and security questions for celebrity accounts. He hijacked a forwarding feature so that a copy of every email received was sent to an account he controlled, according to court documents.
A search warrant unsealed and obtained by The Associated Press said Chaney’s computer hard drive contained numerous private celebrity photos as well as a document that compiled their extensive personal data.
Chaney, who is free on $10,000 bond, has apologized for his actions. His attorney, Christopher Chestnut, told AP last week that his client doesn’t want the case to drag on, but the resolution has to be within reason.
The warrant also said Chaney may have stalked a Connecticut woman online for the past 12 years. The document contends there is probable cause that Chaney violated federal charges of stalking and unauthorized access to a computer.
No other charges have been filed against Chaney.