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FBI raided house in search for mastermind of nude celebrity photo hack

But did they merely find another victim?

People Jennifer Lawrence Jennifer Lawrence, who was a target of the nude picture hack. Source: Associated Press

THE TRAIL OF a celebrity photo-hacking scandal led the FBI to an unassuming brick home in Chicago last October.

That’s according to recently unsealed court documents that show agents focused on a computer they linked to nearly 600 hacked personal data-storage accounts.

Some accounts belonged to female stars whose nude photos were leaked online. The FBI seized computers and mobile phones from the home in October, but no charges have been filed.

At the time of the raid, investigators believed an IP address for a computer at the home was used to access Apple iCloud accounts belonging to celebrities, according to an affidavit unsealed in April.

The affidavit identifies eight celebrities by their initials only: A.S., C.H., H.S., J.M., O.W., A.K., E.B. and A.H.

Other hacked accounts belonged to other celebrities, models and their friends and families, the affidavit said.

Two of the stars talked to the FBI, according to the affidavit.

Celebrity A.S., “who has appeared in several movies and TV shows,” learned she was a victim of the leaks through the news media, the document says.

All photos were taken with her iPhone and sent through iMessage to her boyfriend.

Rihanna launches River Island collection - London The singer Rihanna was among those targeted. Source: Lewis Whyld/PA

Similarly, A.H., “who has appeared in several movies,” told the FBI “some of the photos were sent to her fiance, others were never sent and only stored on her phone.”

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller in Los Angeles said no charges have been filed.

The lack of charges may indicate the computer’s owner could be a victim, too, said Bill Kresse, a cybersecurity expert at Governors State University in University Park, Illinois.

A computer or its IP address can be hijacked from anywhere in the world, he explained.

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“Be cautious about what you put on the iCloud,” Kresse said, and make sure your passwords are difficult to crack.

The raid is part of an ongoing investigation into how nude and sexually explicit photos of celebrities — such as Jennifer Lawrence, whose initials are not in the affidavit — were stolen and posted without permission.

Last summer’s scandal highlighted the vulnerabilities of cloud computing — technology often used to store personal information on the Internet.

In September, Apple said its engineers had determined that hackers breached individual accounts and didn’t obtain general access to the company’s services.

Contains reporting by the Associated Press.

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Dan MacGuill

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