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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 25, 2019

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Austin Man For 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, and Peter C. Fitzhugh, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced today the filing of a criminal indictment against CHRISTIAN ERAZO for conspiring with others to commit wire fraud and computer intrusion, as well as committing aggravated identity theft, by hacking a music producer’s social networking account to impersonate the producer in order to solicit and obtain unreleased music from other artists, which he then directed the artists to send to a fake email account in the producer’s name.  In addition, ERAZO hacked the online accounts of two music management companies in order to steal unreleased music of numerous music industry professionals.  ERAZO was arrested today in Austin, Texas.  He will be presented in federal court in the Western District of Texas tomorrow before United States Magistrate Judge Mark Lane.           

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “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.  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.”

HSI Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said:  “Erazo’s alleged involvement in a hacking scheme to commit wire fraud and downloading 50 gigs of music, some unreleased, has affected the finances and reputations of a producer and several recording artists.  Fraud schemes like this don’t just affect the victim, but can also trickle down negative effects to the consumer.  New York’s robust cyber capabilities allow agents to track down criminals hiding behind their computer screen anywhere in the world to face the consequences of their actions.”

According to the Superseding Indictment filed today in Manhattan federal court:

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, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years; one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, which carries a maximum sentence of five years; and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of two years.  The 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.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of HSI.

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
Contact: 
James Margolin, Nicholas Biase
Press Release Number: 
19-399
Updated November 25, 2019