Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence has contacted authorities to investigate who stole and posted nude images of her online, a spokeswoman said on Monday, part of a reported mass hacking of celebrities’ intimate photos.
Online pictures of the actress, 24, who won an Academy Award for Silver Linings Playbook and stars in The Hunger Games film franchise, began appearing on Sunday. The source of the hack was unclear.
Images purporting to be of dozens of other female actresses, models and athletes were also posted. The authenticity of many could not be confirmed.
“This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence,” spokeswoman Liz Mahoney said. She did not say who was contacted although the FBI had joined the hunt for the hackers other US reports said.
“The FBI is aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter,” The Los Angeles Times quoted Laura Eimiller, spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles, as saying.
“Any further comment would be inappropriate at this time,” she added.
Model Kate Upton was among celebrities whose photos were posted online. Her lawyer, Lawrence Shire, called them “an outrageous violation” of her privacy.
“We intend to pursue anyone disseminating or duplicating these illegally obtained images to the fullest extent possible,” he said.
The scale of the breach became apparent on Sunday when users of the 4chan message board, a diverse online community that has been criticised in the past for misogyny, began sharing pictures.
Some more mainstream news and entertainment sites took up the story – and some linked to the images before taking them down amid legal threats and public outrage.
According to a report on news and gossip site Gawker, users of AnonIB – an anonymous photo-sharing platform – have been boasting of a hack since last week.
Some users, hiding behind pseudonyms, made an apparent attempt to sell the pictures or to trade them with fellow hackers for others.
Tech news site The Next Web reported what it said was evidence that hackers had found a weakness in Apple’s “Find my iPhone” service, an app that tracks lost or stolen handsets.
Apple has patched the alleged hole, the report said, but not before news of it spread in the hacker community, perhaps allowing unscrupulous strangers to access private online data.
“We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report,” Apple spokeswoman Nat Kerris said.
Other reports suggested that the pictures could have been collated from multiple sources, perhaps not including iCloud at all, and may have been gathered over several years.
News site Deadspin said it had been contacted in early August by a source claiming he had been offered the pictures for sale.
Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead said on Twitter that nude photos of her were also posted online. She said the photos had long been deleted.
“I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this. Feeling for everyone who got hacked,” said Winstead, who starred in Smashed and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
By late Sunday, Twitter had begun suspending accounts that linked to the Lawrence photos, tech news site Mashable reported.
Among the scores of celebrities whose pictures were allegedly stolen were singer Avril Lavigne, actress Hayden Panettiere and United States soccer star Hope Solo.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse