Singer Selena Gomez’s email accounts were hacked by a New Jersey college student who is now facing 11 felony counts for stealing the performer’s digital property, prosecutors said Friday.
Susan Atrach, 21, of Ridgefield Park, N.J., is accused of accessing Gomez’s accounts several times from June 2015 through February 2016, said Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Ben Forer of the Cyber Crime Division, who is prosecuting the case. Atrach obtained stored media that she then posted online and shared with other people, he said.
The accounts were an Apple iCloud account and a Yahoo account used by Gomez and an assistant.
Sources familiar with the investigation, but who were not authorized to discuss it, said the young woman did not make any money off the information or convey it to publications. Gomez’s online security was compromised by the hacker resetting her passwords using information questions. The answers to those questions were readily available among hundreds of pieces of information about the singer and actress available online.
Atrach is charged with five felony counts of identity theft; five felony counts of accessing and using computer data to commit fraud or to control or obtain money, property or data; and one felony count of accessing and using computer data or taking supporting documentation without permission.
She is expected to surrender to authorities and be arraigned in court on or before Aug. 27. Atrach faces a possible maximum sentence of nine years and eight months in state prison if convicted as charged. The prosecutor is recommending bail be set at $250,000.
Gomez is the latest celebrity to fall prey to the hacking of their personal accounts. One hacker is spending years in federal prison after acquiring naked images of three stars: Christina Aguilera from her stylist’s email account, actress Renee Olstead from her email stream and Scarlett Johansson from emails she sent to then-husband Ryan Reynolds.