A Bahamian man has been charged for hacking more than 130 emails of celebrities in an attempt to steal and sell sex tapes and movie scripts.
Alonzo Knowles, 23, targeted well-known personalities but none were named in the complaint filed against him, People magazine wrote.
According to the criminal complaint filed in New York, the celebrities are identified as popular actresses, directors, hip hop artists, and high-profile figures in sports and media. Authorities stated that most of the hacked contents contain unreleased scripts and private communications, and some are celebrities’ explicit materials.
People magazine wrote the complaint alleged that Knowles, who also used the alias “Jeff Moxey,” sent a sexually explicit screenshot from a stolen video to an undercover agent on December 12.
The complaint claimed Knowles wrote to the agent: “This is free. This is just a sample of the stuff I can get. I have more stuff along these lines and can get more if you’re interested in this type of stuff.”
But how did he do it?
Fox News reported that Knowles allegedly claimed that he was able to access the celebrities’ accounts by sending either a computer virus or a false warning that the person’s account had been hacked. He then used the information he got back to change the accounts’ email settings so he could maintain access.
Knowles was arrested on Monday in New York, in which he allegedly offered to sell the undercover agent about 15 TV and movie scripts for $80,000.
Knowles made his first appearance in court on Tuesday and faced the charges of criminal copyright infringement and identity theft. He is being held without bail.
Knowles has not entered a plea.
Entertainment Weekly noted that Knowles case is the latest high-profile hack to hit Hollywood.
In 2014, Sony Pictures suffered a massive cyber attack that revealed confidential emails of the company’s executives. About 16 months after, nude photos of female celebrities were stolen and leaked online.