Federal investigators have charged a man in Austin, Texas, for hacking a music producer’s social networking account in an effort to steal unreleased songs from more than 20 recording artists.
On Monday, federal agents arrested 27-year-old Christian Erazo for his role in stealing 50GB of content and then leaking more than 100 unreleased songs online.
Starting in late 2016, Erazo and his unnamed co-conspirators broke into the online account of a music producer at a “microblogging and social networking service,” a likely reference to Twitter. The goal was to impersonate the producer and send private messages to recording artists, asking that they forward their unreleased songs to an email account Erazo actually controlled.
To steal more songs, Erazo and his cohorts also broke into the cloud storage accounts of two music management companies. According to the indictment, they ended up accessing one of the accounts at least 2,300 times. The same account also held a file that contained the personal information on the company’s clients, including their social media login information.
However, Erazo had trouble hiding his tracks. By December 2016, the social networking service had logged the IP address used by one of Erazo’s cohorts to access the music producer’s account. In the same month, Erazo himself logged into the producer’s account without a VPN, which would have also exposed his computer’s IP address.
To try and cover up the crimes, Erazo and his co-conspirators attempted to frame a bystander for the hacking activities. They did this by notifying the music management company about the breach on claims they were trying to prevent song leaks.
At one point, Erazo told one of his cohorts in an online message: “This is the perf[ect] cover up.” But the scheme eventually fell apart. Erazo was put in contact with a security officer at the music management company who was actually an undercover federal officer in Manhattan. By November 2017, Erazo had confessed to law enforcement about his involvement in the account hacks.
The indictment, which was filed in Southern District of New York, doesn’t name Erazo’s co-conspirators. But in September, police in London arrested a 19-year-old for also stealing unreleased music from the recording artists. The arrest was based on a tip from the Manhattan district attorney’s office in New York.
Erazo now faces potential prison time on wire fraud, computer intrusion, and aggravated identity theft charges.