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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Austin Man Pleads Guilty To Computer Hacking And Fraud Scheme To Steal Unreleased Music From Music Industry Professionals

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that CHRISTIAN ERAZO pled guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiring with others to commit wire fraud and computer intrusion.  As part of that scheme, ERAZO and others obtained unauthorized access to a music producer’s social networking account to impersonate the producer, in order to solicit and obtain unreleased music from other artists.  In addition, ERAZO hacked the online accounts of two music management companies in order to steal unreleased music of numerous music industry professionals.  He pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin N. Fox.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As he admitted today, Christian Erazo hacked the accounts of music producers and management companies in order to steal over 50 gigabytes of content, including then-unreleased music, and leaked it on the internet.  This scheme caused financial harm to companies, producers, and artists, and deprived the artists of the ability to release content at their discretion.  Now Erazo must face the music.”

According to the Superseding Indictment and statements made at today’s guilty plea:

From at least in or about late 2016 through at least in or about April 2017, CHRISTIAN ERAZO, the defendant, and others known and unknown, unlawfully obtained unauthorized access to Internet cloud storage service accounts of two music management companies and a music producer (“Producer Victim-1”) by, among other things, using the credentials, or usernames and passwords, of individuals with authorized access to those accounts.  From those accounts, ERAZO and his co-conspirators stole over approximately 50 gigabytes of music, including music that had not yet been publicly released, from over 20 recording artists, as well as usernames and passwords to other online accounts, among other things.  ERAZO and his co-conspirators also leaked on public online forums music that had not yet been publicly released, causing financial and reputational harm to Producer Victim-1 and other recording artists.

In addition, from at least in or about late 2016 through at least in or about late 2017, CHRISTIAN ERAZO, and others known and unknown, unlawfully accessed without authorization a social networking account belonging to Producer Victim-1, from which ERAZO and a co-conspirator (“CC-1”) impersonated Producer Victim-1 and sent private messages to numerous recording artists to solicit music from them that they had not yet released.  ERAZO and CC-1 directed these artists to send their music to a fake email account that ERAZO created that incorporated Producer Victim-1’s professional name, which numerous artists did.

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ERAZO, 27, of Austin, Texas, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The statutory maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.  ERAZO is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield on July 7, 2020.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Kristy J. Greenberg and Alexandra N. Rothman are in charge of the prosecution.

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Financial Fraud
Identity Theft
Contact: 
Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
20-081
Updated March 3, 2020