A Bahamian man has been arrested for hacking into celebrities’ email accounts and stealing scripts, sex tapes, Social Security numbers and other private information, which he then attempted to sell, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
According to a criminal complaint filed in New York and obtained by EW, Alonzo Knowles, 23, boasted to an undercover agent posing as a potential buyer that he had information on at least 130 high-profile figures in entertainment, sports, and media.
None of the victims were named in the complaint.
Per the complaint, Knowles (who used the alias Jeff Moxey) said he accessed the celebrity accounts via a combination of hacking their friends’ accounts to obtain contact information, sending fake text messages to acquire passwords, and using viruses to infiltrate computers.
Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement, “This case has all of the elements of the kind of blockbuster script the defendant, Alonzo Knowles, is alleged to have stolen: hacks into celebrities’ private emails, identity theft, and attempts to sell victims’ information to the highest bidder. Unfortunately, these circumstances are all too real.”
Knowles, who faces charges of felony criminal copyright infringement and identity theft, was held without bail after a court appearance Tuesday. His lawyer, Clay Kaminsky, declined to comment on the charges.
The case is the latest high-profile hack to hit Hollywood, coming about a year after Sony Pictures suffered a massive cyber-attack that revealed confidential emails and about 16 months after nude photos of female celebrities were stolen and distributed online.