The duo from North Rhine-Westphalia used relatively simple Trojan computer programs to hack the stars’ email accounts and gain access to their unreleased songs and sell them, daily Ruhr Nachrichten reported on Wednesday.
“A real scam when it comes to damages,” Duisburg chief prosecutor Rolf Haferkamp told the paper.
Some of the musicians even felt forced to release new albums early and start tours sooner to beat the pirated copies of their songs, he said.
In one case the young men – a 17-year-old DJ from Duisburg and a 23-year-old Wesel resident – blackmailed American pop star Kesha with a compromising photo reportedly showing her having sex, though no money changed hands, the paper reported.
“It was mainly the illegal release of pirated music and spying on data via Trojan files,” Haferkamp said.
Both young men, who still live with their parents, have admitted to most of their crimes.
They used simple methods to download the files, Haferkamp told the paper.
“It only takes a certain know-how and the perseverance to have criminal success,” he said.
The hackers accessed email accounts, credit card numbers and other data belonging to the stars, according to the newspaper, which broke the story broke on Tuesday.
The sex photo of Kesha was reportedly found by chance by the 17-year-old DJ, who published it on his website in retaliation for her refusal to record a “shout out” for him to play during his club sessions, Ruhr Nachrichten said.
Meanwhile the two hackers put the stolen songs up for sale on an internet platform. Though they only managed to earn a five-figure sum with the scheme, the damages to the artists was much more, Haferkamp said.
But apparently some fans weren’t willing to purchase black market songs. When the hackers took their wares to a Kelly Clarkson fan club site, someone became suspicious and contacted her music label, which called police.