Move over, swatting … there's a new prank in Hollywood, but this one is much more serious.
A dozen celebrities and politicians, including Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Michelle Obama, Ashton Kutcher, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sarah Palin, Hulk Hogan, and Mel Gibson, all recently had what appears to be their personal financial information hacked from credit agencies and banks, and published online in a cyber-crime called "doxxing."
The website (which omg! has viewed but will not name or link to) has posted documents including what very much appears to be these very public figures' social security numbers, mortgage amounts, credit card information, car loan information, and important banking statements. Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were also victims, but apparently not as much of their financial information was obtained. omg! has looked through the site extensively and while we can't verify the documents' accuracy, the documents appear to be very real.
omg! spoke with the LAPD and FBI, both of which are on the case, but neither could provide many details at this time as the investigation is ongoing, although the FBI did confirm that it's "aware of the website in question."
The FBI also explained that this latest hoax is called "doxxing," which means "the process of obtaining or deducing information about a person based on a limited set of initial information," and that the bureau has had experience dealing with it before.
Ironically, in addition to the celebrities and politicians who were targeted, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and FBI Director Robert Mueller were also victims.
The LAPD issued the following statement Monday evening: "LAPD detectives are investigating the recent disclosure of Chief Beck's personal information. Apparently this is not necessarily a hacking incident. It is called 'Doxxing' ... This has happened to the Chief on two other occasions prior to this in a similar nature post Occupy LA. We are not at liberty to discuss the others mentioned in the web post. There will be no further comments or press conference on this matter."
Kutcher and the Kardashian-Jenner family were also the victims in the past several months of "swatting," which involves tricking emergency personnel by making a false report, usually via a 911 call.
A 12-year-old boy has claimed responsibility for the swatting incident involving Kutcher. Last October, he called 911 and claimed people inside the home of the "Two and a Half Men" star had guns and explosives, which, of course, was not true. The same boy was also charged with swatting Justin Bieber, but TMZ reports that charges will likely be dropped when he is sentenced, which is expected to happen soon.
UPDATE: Late Tuesday, credit reporting agency Equifax confirmed there was indeed a breach of their information security. A rep for the company issued the following statement: "We are aware of recent media reports pertaining to unauthorized access to files belonging to high-profile individuals. Equifax can confirm that fraudulent and unauthorized access to four consumer credit reports has occurred."
- with reporting from Jeremy Blacklow
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