Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera, Vanessa Hudgens, Mila Kunis and many other A-list celebrities are relieved now: the hacker who violated their privacy has been arrested after a year-long FBI investigation called “Operation Hackerazzi.”
Christopher Chaney, 35, was arrested Wednesday and charged with 26 counts of computer hacking, aggravated identity theft and wiretapping. He faces a maximum penalty of 121 years in federal prison.
“This [arrest] comes as a relief to the victims, many of whom suffered great distress,” Steven Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s L.A. field office, said at a news conference.
The computer pro found a way to break into the Google, Apple and Yahoo mail accounts belonging to celebrities and collect personal information about them between November 2010 and February 2011.
In an exclusive interview on CBS News’ Jacksonville affiliate WTEV, he apologized to his victims and revealed that he gradually developed a fascination with the celebrities that went out of control.
“It started as curiosity and it turned into just being addicted to seeing behind-the-scenes of what was going on with these people you see on the big screen every day,” Chaney said in the interview. “I was almost relieved months ago when they came and took the computer and told me what was going on because I didn’t know how to stop doing it myself.”
According to the federal indictment, Chaney went by the screen names “trainreqsuckswhat,” “anonygrrl” and “jaxjaguars911″ and used information about the celebrities to guess their email passwords.
Then, he would “set the email forwarding feature of the email account to send virtually instantaneously a copy of every email received in the celebrity’s account to a different email account that he controlled.”
“I deeply apologize,” he said. “I know what I did was probably one of the worst invasions of privacy someone could experience and these people don’t have privacy to begin with. And I was in that little sliver of privacy they do have.”