AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin man was arrested on a federal criminal complaint alleging he hacked into music industry producer's social media account and solicited music, often unreleased, from industry professionals.
A federal indictment was issued earlier this week for 27-year-old Christian Erazo of Austin, Texas, on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence, one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, which carries a maximum of five years, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum term of two years.
"Christian Erazo and his co-conspirators allegedly hacked the accounts of music producers and management companies in order to steal over 50 gigabytes of content – including some music that had yet to be publicly released – and leaked it on the internet," stated U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey S. Berman. "Not only did this scheme cause the companies, producers, and artists financial harm, Erazo deprived the artists of the ability to release their own exclusive content at their discretion."
"Erazo’s conduct is a reminder of the potential destruction hackers can inflict, and the need for all users to practice strong measures against cyber intrusions,” stated Berman.
Federal prosecutors say Erazo's scheme took place in or about late 2016 until about April 2017 and involved other known and unknown co-conspirators.Erazo and his co-conspirators unlawfully obtained unauthorized access to internet cloud storage service accounts of two music management companies and a music producer by, among other things, using the credentials of individuals who had access to those accounts.
From those cloud storage accounts, prosecutors say over 50 gigabytes of music from over 20 recording artists and user account credentials for other online accounts were stolen in the breach, among other things.
Additionally, the defendants are alleged to have gained access to the music producers social media account and sent private messages to numerous recording artists to solicit unreleased music.
The unreleased music was then released on online public forums, causing, according to prosecutors, financial and reputational harm to the producer and the artists.
"Fraud schemes like this don’t just affect the victim, but can also trickle down negative effects to the consumer," stated Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh.