In effect, the scheme is a crowdsourced reverse ransom: Send money to this pseudo-anonymous address, or I won’t release these sexually explicit, potentially career-haunting images. As criminal plots go, it appears at first glance to be sound. Fortunately for those celebrities involved, it also appears to have completely failed. At press time, the address posted by the 4Chan user has raised a mere $123 in donations.
Posting on 4Chan hours after the leak (the thread has since been deleted, and 4Chan itself has been down for most of the day), the leaker lamented: “Sure, I got $120 with my bitcoin address, but when you consider how much time was put into acquiring this stuff (i’m not the hacker, just a collector), and the money (i paid a lot via bitcoin as well to get certain sets when this stuff was being privately traded Friday/Saturday) I really didn’t get close to what I was hoping.”
Interestingly, in the hours since the leak began many of the photos have been verified as real, and they may indicate a severe security issue with Apple’s iCloud, cited by many as the most likely source of the photos. Representatives for Jennifer Lawrence called the leak a “flagrant violation of privacy,” and said that authorities have already been contacted to investigate. A similar case in 2011 resulted in a 10-year sentence for hacker Christopher Chaney, who leaked private, nude photos of Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera and others.