Alonzo Knowles, a man from the Bahamas, is accused of hacking the email accounts from 130 celebrities and take sex tapes of them, sexually explicit photos, movie scripts and other sensitive personal items.
Alonzo Knowles was being held without bail after a court appearance Tuesday on criminal copyright infringement and identity theft charges, CBS New York reported.
Although it is unknown which celebrities were affected, prosecutors said in court that among the obtained objects it was included the passport of an actor, Social Security numbers from three professional athletes, new songs for an upcoming album by a singer and an explicit video from a radio host.
“This case has all of the elements of the kind of blockbuster script the defendant, Alonzo Knowles, is alleged to have stolen: hacks into celebrities’ private emails, identity theft, and attempts to sell victims’ information to the highest bidder,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “Unfortunately, these circumstances are all too real.”
According to the court, the investigation of Knowles began after “a popular radio broadcaster” received an unsolicited offer from someone selling scripts for the next season of a series of a popular TV drama. The radio host contacted the executive producer of the series, who called the Department of Homeland Security investigators.
Authorities followed that offer to Knowles, of Freeport, Bahamas, who called himself “Jeff Moxey” and claimed to have “exclusive content” worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, Homeland Security Special Agent Michael McDonald said in a complaint.
The 23-year-old guy stole the material after sending a virus that allowed him access to the accounts. He sent a message to the celebrities warning that their account was about to be hacked so they should change the accounts’ email settings, entering the password again, in order to secure it.
On December 12, Knowles sent the undercover agent a sexually explicit image and a video of a second radio host, who was described as “television host and columnist,” said the complaint. The young man said that was just one example of the things that he could get.
At a meeting in New York on Monday, the day he was arrested, he told the police he offered to sell the undercover agent about 15 TV and movie scripts for $80,000, the complaint said.
Source: CBS News