Scarlett Johansson's stolen nude photos could cost hacker $66,179.46 and five years in prison

Filed Under: Celebrities, Featured, Law & order, Nude Celebrities, Privacy

Scarlett Johannson. Image courtesy of Helga Esteb / The computer hacker who broke into the email accounts of celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, and leaked nude photographs of the stars online faces tough penalties according to US prosecutors.

Christopher Chaney, from Jacksonville, Florida, pleaded guilty to breaking into the Apple, Gmail and Yahoo email accounts of various female stars, including Mila Kunis and Scarlett Johansson. By automatically forwarding any email the hacked celebrities received to an account under his own control, Chaney was able to gain access to the actress's private correspondence and personal photographs.

Nude and risque photos of various celebrities subsequently leaked onto the internet, and were posted on gossip websites. (You do have to ask yourself what these celebs were thinking taking such photos - but that's a debate for another time).

Now, according to media reports, prosecutors have filed documents at the US District Court in California, calling for 35-year-old Chaney to spend 71 months in prison, and pay over $150,000 in restitution.

Specifically, prosecutors are calling on Chaney to pay:

  • $7,500 to Christina Aguilera for semi-nude snaps, allegedly grabbed from her personal stylist's account.
  • $66,179.46 to Scarlett Johansson.
  • $76,767.35 to actress and singer Renee Olstead.

(I've got to admit, I love that such a precise figure is given for the proposed payments to Scarlett Johansson and fellow victim Renee Olstead - right down to the last cent! One wonders whose job it is to come up with these calculations, and how they are determined..)

A police investigation looked into the wave of hacking incidents involving approximately 50 celebrities, including Johansson, "High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus.

Chaney, who has previously claimed that the nude photo hacking was driven by "addiction", is also said to have accessed information about male stars who have hidden their homosexuality for the sake of their careers.

TMZ reports that prosecutors claim Chaney's crimes are worse than those of Michael David Barrett, who was jailed for 2.5 years after secretly videoing TV sports presenter Erin Andrews through her hotel room's peephole while she was naked, and published the footage on the internet.

I must admit I find it somewhat curious that no action seems to have been taken against any of the gossip websites which reproduced the intimate nude photos of Scarlett Johansson et al. Surely they were aware that they were in possession of stolen goods, and should have called the cops rather than republished them for clicks?

Make sure that your email accounts are protected by a hard-to-guess unique password, and that you have not chosen "password reminder" questions that are easy for others to answer.

Furthermore, check your email accounts' settings to make sure that your messages are not being secretly forwarded to someone else. Check out our extensive tips about how to avoid having your Gmail account hacked, for instance.

Chaney is scheduled to be sentenced July 23rd.

Image of Scarlett Johannson courtesy of Helga Esteb /

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13 Responses to Scarlett Johansson's stolen nude photos could cost hacker $66,179.46 and five years in prison

  1. Kgabor · 1193 days ago

    I wonder when the justice system around the world will realise that putting someone away in jail will not help. Doesn't work as a correctional facility, nor the society benefits from it. :S

  2. I agree with what kgabor said. lockong some one away does not change them

  3. First World cancer · 1193 days ago

    all eye see on this site is:
    first world problems

    get a hold of yourselves you should feel ashamed

  4. none · 1193 days ago

    good. we didn't have enough non-violent offenders in prison.

  5. Not to nitpick but guessing someone's password isn't technically 'hacking' at all. 1, If women (or men/celebrities whatever) don't want nude pictures posting all over the internet then don't make them publicly available. 2, why do murderers get let off charges? The disparity there needs looking at.

    • VFAC · 1189 days ago

      As we are nitpicking, for better or worse, illegal access to data is often used interchangeably with hacking in a legal setting. The important point here is that accessing someones account without their permission is illegal. Even if you went into their room and sat down at their computer without entering a single password that is still against the law. If you guess their password, it is equivalent to finding a key that will open someone's house. The right to enter the house and do as you will with the contents is not granted to you because you possess a key.

      • Correct. People who do this should be jailed forever. There is no constructive purpose to illegally accessing other peoples email any more than illegally gaining entry to their homes. If you can't think of anything better to do with your time, maybe you should just forfeit you life.

  6. pmshah · 1192 days ago

    How stupid can one get ? Why were the nude pictures in their email accounts to start with ? I am guessing they are bitching because they did not get paid for stripping like they do in the movies.

  7. There is a significant difference between being paid to portray a role that may or may not include displaying your body and having your personal privacy violated against your will and images you did not consent to sharing being displayed all over the world. Just because I've seen Christina Aguilera's bare butt in a magazine doesn't mean I have the right to lift her skirt if I ever meet her.

    Having said that, a jail sentence seems hugely over the top as a punishment. A suspended one, perhaps, but somebody who gets into somebody's phone and posts some naughty pictures online isn't exactly a dangerous, hard-bitten criminal. If they survive prison, they will be, and then you've got a likely reoffender to deal with in a few years. It's a stupid idea that seems designed more to create criminals rather than reduce offenses. Given the for-profit nature of many prison systems, it is likely this is actually the case.

  8. wittostevie · 979 days ago

    Uhuh. And if he didn't have that 46 cents, what would they do? Keep him in prison until he searches someones couch?

  9. Aasdaf · 874 days ago

    I think this is too much... all he did was to get to their e-mail accounts, because obviously they didnt use proper password.
    All he should get is maybe some smaller fine and if those celebrities dont like it, they should get fines too, for having weak passwords...
    Definitely no prison for this guy, since he didnt do anything life threatening or serious.

    And also if it was anyone elses pictures stolen this way, nobody would really care, how are these celebrities more important than any other individual?

  10. phil · 845 days ago

    how strange that every time pond-life gets caught with his hands where they shouldn't be they always claim to have mental problems. A few years in a mental institution may help to improve their mental stability !! They do it for kicks and they should be 'kicked' when caught.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley