Hollywood hacker sentenced to 10 years in prison

Published Dec 18, 2012 10:09am

Associated Press/Reed Saxon, File - FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2011 file photo, Christopher Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Fla., leaves federal court in Los Angeles. Chaney has agreed to plead guilty to hacking into the email accounts of celebrities such as Christina Aguilera, Mila Kunis and Scarlett Johansson, whose nude photos eventually landed on the Internet, according to court documents filed Thursday, March 22, 2012. Long before Christopher Chaney made headlines by hacking into the email accounts of such stars as Scarlett Johansson and Christina Aguilera, he honed his craft at the expense of two women who say he harassed them and stalked them online. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)
Christopher Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville,  leaves federal court in Los Angeles. — AP Photo

LOS ANGELES: A US judge jailed a computer hacker for 10 years on Monday for breaking into the email accounts of stars, including Scarlett Johansson, naked pictures of whom were leaked online.

A federal judge in Los Angeles also ordered 36-year-old Christopher Chaney, from Florida, to pay a total of $76,000 to Johansson, Christina Aguilera and Renee Olstead, who were among dozens of other people he hacked.

Chaney pleaded guilty in March, in a deal with prosecutors. He could have been jailed for up to 121 years if convicted on all 26 indictments he was originally charged with.

His arrest by FBI agents in October last year grew out of an 11-month investigation into the hacking of over 50 entertainment industry names, many of them young female stars like Mila Kunis.

The indictments against him included accessing and damaging computers, wire tapping and identify theft.

Hacked pictures of Johansson, star of “The Horse Whisperer” and “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” showed her in a state of undress in a home setting. Aguilera's computer was hacked in December 2010, when racy photos of her also hit the Internet. Kunis' cell phone was hacked in September that year with photos of her, including one in a bathtub, spread online.

The FBI alleged that Chaney used open-source, public information to try to guess a celebrity's email password, and then would breach the account. He then allegedly communicated directly with contacts found in the hacked email account's address list and searched the account for photos, information and other data.

To control the account, Chaney is alleged to have altered the email'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, according to the FBI.


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