A Jacksonville computer hacker worked his way into the private e-mails of Hollywood celebrities and sold pictures – including nude photos of actress Scarlett Johannson – to various sites and publications. That drew the attention of the feds, who launched a yearlong operation dubbed “Operation Hackerazzi.” That operation led to Jacksonville’s Christopher Chaney, 35, who was hacking the e-mails out of his Westside home, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Chaney was arrested in Jacksonville last year and last month pleaded guilty in a Los Angeles federal court to nine felony counts, including intercepting or attempting to intercept private emails, wiretapping and wire fraud. His deal with prosecutors got 15 other charges dismissed. He faces up to 60 years in prison and fines up to $2 million when he’s sentenced this summer. Chaney hacked into the email accounts of more than 50 celebrities and would then sell or forward pictures and other content, according to the newspaper report. The Jacksonville arrest made national headlines, particularly because it was the root of nude photos of Johannson that were intended for Johannson’s boyfriend, but instead spread through the Internet.
Chaney would get the private e-mail address, then click on those “Forget Your Password?” links, according to the new report. He’d use information from various websites and news sources to correctly answer security questions and reset the password. He’d then have incoming and outgoing emails forwarded to a separate account Chaney created. Once he was caught, authorities said Chaney was helpful to federal agents in the investigation and showed a great deal of remorse, according to the newspaper. That certainly can’t hurt him when the sentencing rolls around. Typically federal investigations take longer and the case is well established before an indictment rolls around. In many cases, it’s darn near iron clad – with wiretaps and documentation and pretty much everything wrapped up with a pretty bow. And, in those cases, if you’re caught, you’re caught and it can behoove you to help authorities and hope it helps in sentencing.
But never do so without a criminal attorney and, in Clay, Duval or St. Johns counties, you need an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense law firm to talk you through what you would say if and when you do talk to authorities. If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County wiretapping and fraud lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.