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Hacker should pay Johansson, other celebrities $150,000, feds urge

June 26, 2012 |  5:40 pm

p>Christopher Chaney

Federal prosecutors want a man who hacked the email accounts of celebrities and their associates and obtained naked images of Christina Aguilera, Renee Olstead and Scarlett Johansson to serve 71 months in prison and pay the celebrities about $150,000 in compensation.

Christopher Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Fla., whose pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court to nine counts of computer hacking, hacked almost daily for two years into email accounts of 50 people in the entertainment industry.

Prosecutors in a sentencing memorandum say Chaney took naked images of Aguilera from her stylist's email account, Olstead's from her email stream and Johansson's from emails she sent to her then husband Ryan Reynolds. He forwarded them to another hacker and two celebrity websites, who made them public. They remain in wide ciriculation.

Prosecutors want Chaney to compensate some of his victims. They are asking a judge to order him to pay $7,500 to Christina Aguilera; $66,179.46 to Scarlett Johansson; $76,767.35 to Renee Olstead, an actress best known for the TV show "The Secret Life of American Teenager"; and, $10,374.59 to Aftra Health Fund.

Assistant U.S. Attys. Lisa Feldman and Wesley Hsu, in seeking the sentencing and compensation, wrote that Chaney did not stop even after being caught. “Indeed, it was apparently such a rush that he continued to do it after the FBI had come and searched his home and seized his computer,” Feldman  wrote,  arguing for the 71-month sentence. “At least once, on an occasion after defendant’s residence had already been searched by the FBI, the recipient of the email, a secondary victim, complied.”

Federal prosecutors attached a copy of a GQ magazine article in which Chaney recounts the "rush" of his obsession and how he read celebrity emails exchanges and would eventually hand over images to a fellow hacker.

Chaney has admitted that from at least November 2010 to October 2011, he hacked into the email accounts of Johansson, Mila Kunis and others by taking their email addresses, clicking on the “Forgot your password” feature and then resetting the passwords by correctly answering their security questions using publicly available information he found by searching the Internet. Prosecutors said that once Chaney gained exclusive control of the victims' email accounts, he was able to access all of their email boxes. While in the accounts, Chaney also went through their contact lists to find email addresses of potential new hacking targets.

Feldman noted that Chaney cared little for the damage he did. “I don’t care if you share the pictures I’ve sent you . . . as long as you never mention where you got them,” he told a fellow hacker. Feldman also noted that one of Chaney’s victims “was underage for part of the 11 years that defendant was victimizing her.”

Feldman said that according to the victim, Chaney stole private information and underage nude photographs of her, which he posted on a pornography-related website. Feldman noted that agents also recovered eight child pornographic videos from his computer.


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Photo: Christopher Chaney last November outside federal court in Los Angeles. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press.