Hacker Hacks Celebrities, Gets Busted

By: Robert Siciliano | February 11, 2016 (Edited July 7, 2017)

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A hacker from the Bahamas recently created big waves when he did some major hacking. He's Alonzo Knowles, only 23, and his attempt to sell stolen items was intercepted by an undercover agent.

The items included Social Security numbers for professional athletes and actors; celebrity sex tapes; comedy film scripts; and 30 unreleased music tracks-all worth, he believed, hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Knowles was charged with felony criminal copyright infringement and identity theft. By then he had amassed the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of 130 celebrities and a host of entertainment industry secrets.

How did Knowles do this?

Somehow, some way, he figured out via photos who the friends of the celebrities were (probably through a Google photo search). And somehow, some way, he hacked into their e-mail accounts (probably via phising), since he believed it was too difficult to hack into a celebrity's account.

Once he got into the friends' accounts, he located personal information about the celebrities, contacted them and tricked them into giving up their passwords. Knowles was even able to infiltrate some of the celebrities' computers.

But he got ahead of himself. Knowles contacted a radio host via e-mail and offered to sell the comedy scripts. The radio host, smelling a rotten fish, contacted the TV scripts' executive producer.

TV network reps contacted the Department of Homeland Security. The radio host set up a call between Knowles and the undercover agent. Knowles sent the agent a sex tape and said he had a lot more goodies to sell. He also tried to sell him 15 scripts and the Social Security numbers.

The names of the affected celebrities have not been released, and Knowles' attorney, Clay Kaminsky, has refused to comment on the charges.

This case has brought to light just how easy it is for even the accounts of celebrities to get accessed, even if it's indirectly via their friends. And it can't be said enough: Unless you want the whole world to see you engaged in a sex act, for Pete's sake, don't post such content online!

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

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