Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP

Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP

FBI inquiry begins into nude celebrity photo leaks

The FBI said Monday it was addressing allegations that online accounts of several celebrities, including Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, had been hacked, leading to the posting of their nude photographs online.

The agency did not say what actions it was taking to investigate who was responsible for posting naked photos of Lawrence and other stars. Apple said Monday it was looking into whether its online photo-sharing service had been hacked to obtain the intimate images.

Lawrence, a three-time Oscar nominee who won for her role in “Silver Linings Playbook,” contacted authorities after the images began appearing Sunday.

Naked images purporting to be of other female stars were also posted, although the authenticity of many couldn't be confirmed. The source of the leak was unclear.

“This is a flagrant violation of privacy,” Lawrence's publicist Liz Mahoney wrote in a statement. “The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.”

The FBI said it was “aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter.”

“Any further comment would be inappropriate at this time,” spokeswoman Laura Eimiller wrote in a statement.

Apple Inc. spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said the company was investigating whether any iCloud accounts had been tampered with, but she did not give any further details.

“We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report,” she said.

Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead also confirmed that nude photos of her were posted online.

“To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves,” Winstead posted on Twitter. Winstead, who starred in “Final Destination 3” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” wrote that she thought the images had been destroyed.

“Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this,” Winstead wrote.

The FBI has investigated previous leaks of nude celebrity images, including leaks involving Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera and footage of television sports reporter Erin Andrews in a Tennessee hotel room. Those cases resulted in convictions.

How widespread the hacking of celebrities photos was is not immediately clear. Some of the images were quickly denounced as fakes.

Some cybersecurity experts speculated that hackers may have obtained a cache of private celebrity images by exploiting weaknesses in an online image-storing platform.

“It is important for celebrities and the general public to remember that images and data no longer just reside on the device that captured it,” security researcher Ken Westin wrote in a blog post Monday. “Once images and other data are uploaded to the cloud, it becomes much more difficult to control who has access to it, even if we think it is private.”

Private information and images of celebrities are frequent targets for hackers. Last year, a site posted credit reports, Social Security numbers and other financial info on celebrities, including Jay Z and his wife Beyonce, Mel Gibson, Ashton Kutcher and many others.

Johansson, Kunis and Aguilera were hacked by a Florida man, Christopher Chaney, who used publicly available information to hack into the email accounts of more than 50 people in the entertainment industry.

“I have been truly humiliated and embarrassed,” Johansson said in a tearful videotaped statement played in court at Chaney's sentencing in December 2012.

“That feeling of security can never be given back and there is no compensation that can restore the feeling one has from such a large invasion of privacy,” Aguilera wrote in a statement before Chaney's sentencing.FBIFeaturesGossipJennifer Lawrence

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a COVID-19 update at the City College of San Francisco mass vaccination site in April. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Gavin Newsom under COVID: The governor dishes on his pandemic life

By Emily Hoeven CalMatters It was strange, after 15 months of watching… Continue reading

Deputy public defender Chris Garcia outside the Hall of Justice on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
As pandemic wanes, SF public defender hopes clients will get ‘their day in court’

Like other attorneys in San Francisco, Deputy Public Defender Chris Garcia has… Continue reading

Hyphen hosts a group show at Space Gallery in San Francisco in 2010. (Photo courtesy of Albert Law/Pork Belly Studio)
What’s in a name? Asian American magazine fights to keep its identity

An investor-backed media group laid claim to the moniker of SF’s long-running Hyphen magazine, sparking a conversation about writing over community history

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fight over ‘poverty tows’ heats up

‘What can we do to ensure the vehicle stays in the hands of the owner?’

Crab fisherman Skip Ward of Marysville casts his crab net out off a pier near Fort Point. (Craig Lee/Special to The	Examiner)
San Francisco came back to life, and we captured it all

Last spring, in the early days of the pandemic, the bestselling authors… Continue reading

Most Read