Celebrity email hacker who leaked nude Scarlett Johansson photos arrested

Actress Scarlett Johansson is one of the celebrity victims of the email hacker.
Actress Scarlett Johansson is one of the celebrity victims of the email hacker. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A Florida man was released on a $10,000 bond after being charged with hacking into the emails of Christina Aguilera, Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis in a hacking scheme officials are calling "Operation Hackerazzi."

Christopher Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, was arrested Wednesday morning without incident as part of a yearlong investigation of celebrity hacking that invaded the computers of Hollywood celebrities, authorities said Wednesday.

Chaney was charged with 26 counts of identity theft, unauthorized access to a protected computer and wiretapping.

If convicted, Chaney faces up to 121 years in prison. It wasn't immediately known if he had retained an attorney.

Authorities said the hacker was responsible for stealing nude photos taken by Johansson herself and were later posted on the Internet. Chaney offered some material to celebrity blog sites but there is no evidence that he profited from his scheme, said Steven Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office.

The Los Angeles Times reports the FBI probe began in 2010 after allegations that the phones and computers of Hollywood celebrities had been compromised.

"Celebrity information is highly marketable," said Martinez, who added his office continues to receive complaints about celebrities' having their personal information breached.

There were more than 50 victims, including actress Renee Olstead. Others were named only by initials and investigators wouldn't identify if they were famous, but said those who were named as victims in the indictment agreed to have the identities made public.

"It helps get out the message that cyber-hacking is a real threat," said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte, who called those who engage in such activity as "scum."

Chaney hacked Google, Apple and Yahoo email accounts beginning last November through February, then hijacked the forwarding feature so that a copy of every email received was sent, "virtually instantaneously," to an email account he controlled, according to an indictment handed up Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles.

He allegedly used the hacker names "trainreqsuckswhat," ''anonygrrl" and "jaxjaguars911," and also used the victims' identities to illegally access and control computers. Chaney is accused of damaging email servers that caused losses of at least $5,000 per instance.

Authorities wouldn't say whether Chaney was able to access email accounts via cell phones, but he was able to figure out secure passwords to various celebrity accounts through information that had been made public.

A message seeking comment was left on an answering machine for a Christopher Chaney in Jacksonville. There was no answer at a telephone listing for another Christopher Chaney.

Investigators said they hoped the celebrity-infused case will jumpstart those who don't value online security enough to protect their personal information and create more secure passwords that can't be easily figured out by would-be hackers.

"Taking these steps will go a long way in protecting yourself from the financial and emotional costs of having someone intrude on your private life and potentially steal your identity," Birotte said.

This story has been updated.

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