The man who allegedly hacked into the e-mail accounts of numerous celebrities — including Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis and others — was arrested and indicted today on 26 counts of computer hacking, aggravated identity theft and illegal wire-tapping.
Christopher Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Fla., faces up to 121 years in prison, FBI officials announced today at a press conference focused on what has been dubbed Operation Hackerazzi, an ongoing effort to find those responsible for publicly sharing celebrities’ private conversations and nude photographs — most notably of Johansson — after breaking into their personal e-mail accounts.
The indictment in the Chaney case implies that he acted alone. It also mentions several famous victims by name, including Johansson, Kunis, Christina Aguilera, stylist Simone Harouche and actress Renee Olstead. Others were referred to solely using initials — references to a “J.A.,” for example, presumably refer to Jessica Alba, who has widely been reported as one of the many hacking victims. Officials did not confirm what any of the initials stand for, however, even when one reporter boldly asked if B.P. meant Brad Pitt.
The indictment alleges that Chaney — who, for the record, is not related to this writer — allegedly worked his invasive magic by gaining access to the accounts of up to 50 individuals and setting their e-mail forwarding features to automatically shoot a copy of every new message (attachments included) to an inbox he created. He then shared what he gathered — which ranged from conversations to movie scripts — with celebrity Web sites and other online outlets that disseminated the information. Officials would not say whether Web sites that published the material will also face charges.
They did say during the press conference that the celebrities mentioned in the indictment agreed to have their names released. So far none of them has issued a statement regarding news of Chaney’s arrest.