The email accounts of more than 100 celebrities have been hacked. Unreleased movie scripts, social security numbers and some sex tapes were allegedly taken.
Alonzo Knowles, 23 of the Bahamas has been accused of the crime, according to US federal prosecutors at a New York court.
The New York Times said Knowles attempted to sell some of the material he came across to a radio host, and that's when the hacking of 130 celebrities was discovered. The radio host contacted a producer of one of the television scripts that was taken and the network notified the US Department of Homeland Security.
To acquire the accounts, Knowles first hacked into the friend's email accounts of the celebrities. That way, he gained control of the personal information of the celebrities and found phone numbers, thus prompting him to send a text that advised their account had allegedly been hacked.
Most of the celebrities responded to his text messages and offered their passwords, allowing Knowles to gain full access of their accounts. He then sent a virus to gain access to information stored on the hard drive and moderate the email settings.
Knowles appeared at a US federal court in New York on Tuesday, 22 December and was charged with criminal copyright infringement and identity theft. A judge ruled to hold Knowles with no bail. Knowles supposedly attempted selling several of the social security numbers and a bunch of scripts for £54,000 to an undercover agent.
“This is just a sample of things I can get,” Knowles wrote when he sent a sex tape to the potential buyer, who was in fact an undercover investigator. “I have more stuff along these lines and can get more if you're interested.”
George Sorge, the acting special agent said, “This arrest brings down an alleged email hacking scheme that targeted many individuals including some in the entertainment industry. As cyber-crime becomes more pervasive, this operation embodies HSI's [Homeland Security Investigations'] commitment to target those who use the cyber world for illegal financial gain.”