Celebrity hacker gets 10 years prison for e-mail hack
The man targeted in "Operation Hackerazzi" is now behind bars.
Hacker Christopher Chaney was sentenced to 10 years in prison today by U.S. District Judge James Otero, according to the Associated Press. Chaney pled guilty to hacking into dozens of celebrities' e-mail accounts and posting their private information on the Internet. Among his victims were Mila Kunis, Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera, Simone Harouche, and Renee Olstead.
"It's hard to fathom the mindset of a person who would accomplish all of this," Otero said, according to the Associated Press. "These types of crimes are as pernicious and serious as physical stalking."
Chaney, 35 of Jacksonville, Fla., was nabbed last year following an 11-month investigation that federal officials named "Operation Hackerazzi." After the bust, Chaney initially pled not guilty, but he later struck a plea deal and ended up agreeing to nine counts, including identity theft, wiretapping, and unauthorized access of protected computers. He also agreed to surrender his computers, external drives, and cell phone.
More than 50 victims from the entertainment industry were connected with the case, but only a handful agreed to be identified by name with the hope of garnering awareness about online information theft. Chaney admitted to hacking into their accounts, obtaining private e-mails and confidential documents, publicizing their personal information, and sending photos to two celebrity Web sites. Some of the photos of Johansson were nude photos she took privately to send to her then-husband Ryan Reynolds.
Chaney gained access to the accounts by using the "Forgot your password?" feature in their e-mail accounts. He then would reset the passwords by answering security questions from public information he found by searching the Web. According to his plea agreement, Chaney received thousands of e-mails from the victims' accounts.
According to the Associated Press, Otero heard a videotaped statement from Johansson, in which she said, "I have been truly humiliated and embarrassed. I find Christopher Chaney's actions to be perverted and reprehensible."
Chaney faced up to 60 years in prison and prosecutors fought to get him at least six. Otero ruled to give him ten years because he believed Chaney would not control his behavior and showed a "callous disregard" for his actions, according to the Associated Press. The judge also ruled that Chaney will get three years of supervised probation after he serves his time.