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Thursday, July 11, 2024 | Back issues
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NYC Hacking Arrest|Shakes Up Hollywood

MANHATTAN (CN) - Underscoring Hollywood's cybersecurity vulnerabilities, federal prosecutors brought charges against a hacker they say stole movie and television scripts, along with personal account information, naked selfies and sex tapes.

The complaint late Tuesday alleges that Alonzo Knowles aka Jeff Moxey contacted a radio host in early December and offered to sell six scripts from upcoming episodes of a popular TV show.

The complaint does not specify the names of the network, show or any individuals aside from Knowles, described as a 23-year-old native of Freeport, Bahamas.

Unbeknownst to Knowles, the host contacted law enforcement who put Bahamian in touch with an undercover federal agent.

Knowles allegedly told the agent that he used a "virus" to gain access to people's computers. Claiming to have 19 scripts of movies and films, Knowles used the iPhone FaceTime app to show the agent actor and producer watermarks on the scripts, according to the complaint.

Prosecutors say the agent offered Knowles $75,000 for the scripts, made plans to meet in person, and asked if he had anything else.

Knowles allegedly offered then to provide "private 'sex tapes,'" and sent the agent a "sample" of a woman only identified as "Victim-6 Sexually Explicit Material," which he had taken from the account of a "television host and columnist" called "Victim-6."

The bounty also included Social Security numbers, passport numbers, 30 unreleased tracks from who he allegedly called "a very popular A list [sic] celebrity," according to the complaint.

Authorities arrested Knowles on Monday night in Manhattan after he accepted $80,000 in cash from the agent, according to a statement from the government.

In making the arrangements for the sale, Knowles allegedly provided the agent with his own phone number, Money Gram account number and passport number.

Knowles is charged with one count of criminal copyright infringement and one count of identity theft.

The arrest comes roughly a year after two hacking scandals roiled Hollywood. In August 2014, hackers released nude images of actresses including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton that the actresses had uploaded to their Apple iCloud accounts.

Three months later, hackers leaked unreleased films and personal information of workers at Sony Pictures in an attack the government claims came from North Korea.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a press release that the latest "case has all the elements of the kind of blockbuster script ... [Knowles] is alleged to have stolen."

"Unfortunately, these circumstances are all too real," Bharara added.

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