This is an important public service announcement. Hackers are attacking our most vulnerable celebrities. These cynical sirens of cyberspace are using their digital dark arts to infiltrate the Instagram and Twitter accounts of the influencer class. But instead of getting anything out of it, the tricky typists pose as athletes and journalists and movie stars and then oddly send errant extramarital sexts to thirst trap models, strippers — or Anthony Scaramucci.
If you’re sensing sarcasm, let’s admit celeb hacks are real. In 2020, the Twitter accounts of Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and other major names were infiltrated by a new-school scammer running a very old con, promising to double your money if you’d just send some bitcoin upfront, according to CNN. The fraudster turned out to be a Florida teen, who had more than $700,000 in cryptocurrency seized by the Secret Service, per The New York Times.
So hacking is real. The spate of iCloud breaches releasing private, often nude photos of attractive starlets is another urgent example. It’s this genuine phenomenon that creates plausibility for an increasingly popular “I was hacked” excuse any time someone with profile makes an internet faux pas. The difference in these cases is motive. Hackers usually want something — beyond just to embarrass our beloved stars. Celebrities obviously have that covered on their own. So these are celebs who tried to blame the dark web for airing their dirty laundry.
Trump debate moderator lied about being hacked
Opinions are like podcasts; everyone has one. But when you get tapped to moderate a presidential debate, you need to at least pretend you’re going to give each candidate a fair shake.
C-SPAN host Steve Scully (late-breaking news: C-SPAN has hosts!?) was tapped to moderate the second presidential debate in 2020 between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. If you saw the first dumpster fire posing as a debate, you may realize the gravity of the task. As the nation braced for round two, a since-deleted tweet was posted to Scully’s official account directed at “The Mooch” Anthony Scaramucci, who was the Trump White House communication director for a mere 10 days before being unceremoniously fired. A disgruntled Scaramucci quickly became a “vocal critic” of Trump, according to NBC News. But the supposedly neutral Scully was “seeking advice” in an apparent conflict of interest, asking Scaramucci, without context included, “should I respond to Trump?”
C-SPAN quickly dropped a statement claiming, “Steve Scully did not originate the tweet and believes his account has been hacked.” The network said they were investigating and had alerted authorities, which turned out to be the FBI. Scully had also claimed he was hacked in 2013, and observers pointed out this was a pretty odd hacker move. Within days Scully came clean. “I falsely claimed that my Twitter account had been hacked … I apologize.” Scully claimed he did it “out of frustration,” according to The Washington Post. C-Span suspended Scully indefinitely.
Joy Reid blames blames homophobic hackers
In 2018, posts from MSNBC host Joy Reid full of homophobic comments came to light, as well mockery of “specific individuals who were allegedly gay,” according to Vox. She accused, without evidence, Tom Cruise, Karl Rove, and the son of Chief Justice John Roberts of being gay. She allegedly went on to write via her blog, “most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing,” as well as “a lot of heterosexuals, especially men, find the idea of homosexual sex to be … well … gross.”
Reid’s ravings also included wild 9-11 conspiracies, according to Buzzfeed News, and an image of Senator John McCain photoshopped onto the body of the Virginia Tech mass shooter who slaughtered 32 people in 2007. Meghan McCain called the post “beyond disgusting and disgraceful.”
Reid initially apologized, saying her remarks were “insensitive, tone-deaf and dumb.” But as more homophobic posts emerged, she claimed her blog was “breached.” A deep dive via CNN, however, concluded, “Reid’s hacking claims don’t add up.” Reid eventually took to the air and admitted experts found no evidence of hacking, but still claimed, “I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things because they are completely alien to me,” she said, per AM Joy. “But I can definitely understand, based on things I have tweeted and have written in the past, why some people don’t believe me.” Her show remains on air where she nets an annual salary of $1.5 million.
Anthony Weiner's d pic detonation
Former New York Democrat Congressman Anthony Weiner rose to prominence in 2010 with a stirring speech about 9/11 first responders, according to CNN. Just a year later, Breitbart discovered something else rising — inside the married man’s shorts — directed at a college student in Seattle, but briefly posted via Twitter. But this was one stimulus package the Democrat didn’t want to claim, Weiner crying “hacked,” via Twitter. He quickly hired a firm to “investigate.”
Days later, Weiner tearfully confessed in a press conference (via Associated Press), “To be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it,” he said, while admitting to a larger pattern of sliding hot fire into various DMs. Days later, TMZ proved him correct, dropping more suggestive photos of Weiner. The Congressman then resigned.
In 2013 the libidinous lawmaker attempted a comeback announcing his candidacy for mayor of New York. Two months into his run, a gossip blog obtained explicit conversations with yet another woman — dated after his resignation, and Weiner finished fifth in the race. In 2016 the worst photos of Weiner yet dropped, in bed next to his infant son, sent to a “busty brunette,” according to the New York Post. Weiner’s long-suffering wife, a campaign staffer for Hillary Clinton (who may feel her pain), announced the couple’s separation shortly after (via CNN).
Rita Ora bothered by bots
Superstar Rita Ora is known for her tremendous ability to generate (mostly UK) headlines for newsworthy events such as: having interesting eyebrows, interesting teeth, having boobs, abs, and just generally putting on many a “daring display.”
This high priestess of PR perhaps thought — given the interest in her photogenic person — surely a tease about new music would catch viral fire. One Halloween 2014, the singer’s account tweeted, “dropping my new song Monday if this gets 100,000 retweets.” But despite her 3.9 million followers, according to Jezebel, the tweet garnered only 2,000 retweets — just 98,000 short of her goal. The tweet was quickly deleted.
Within hours of the disappointing showing, Ora came out alleging something was amiss, “By the way my Twitter got hacked somebody is threatening to release new music I’ve worked really hard on. Nothing comes out until I’m ready.” She then added that only her fans, or “bots,” AKA Ritabots, get to say when she drops music, and, “Luckily I caught the hacker really quickly and deleted the post.” For some reason, however, Ora was lit up with skeptical replies, according to Buzzfeed — the listicle site calling the incident a “massive Twitter fail.” Closer claimed Ora was “left humiliated” by the stunt. The word “hacked” in this situation, “we all know, means ‘Let’s pretend I never said anything, OK?'” claims The Daily Edge.
Was Offset cheating on Cardi B or was he just hacked?
No relationship in hip hop is more complicated than Cardi B and her Migos amigo Offset. It’s fitting then their “hack” scandal is borderline incomprehensible.
In 2019 Offset allegedly slid into the DMs of a New York City ex-strip club bartender named Sarah “Jade” Wattley. Jade happens to be the girlfriend of human glow stick and rapper-turned-criminal-informant, Tekashi 6ix9ine — remember that for later. Well, it turns out Jade and Cardi B have bad blood stemming from a 2018 incident where Cardi allegedly had her “posse” attack Jade, according to TMZ. Jade claims Cardi screamed, “I’m blood I’ll f**k you b****es up!” Jade then posted a video showing a DM allegedly from Offset’s IG that reads “miss u …”
Offset posted a video in response claiming his email was hacked, and he was locked out of his Instagram. But as Vulture points out, “The email in the video … is an email from Instagram replying to Offset’s report that his account has been hacked. Not exactly conclusive evidence.” Cardi, however, backed Offset’s hack claim in a since-deleted video. Then a series of lewd tweets were published from Offset’s account, such as, “I’m gay y’all,” which one fan summed up as an attempt by Offset to cover his tracks, “Offset got caught in Snitch9s [get it!?] girls DMs and she exposed him. Now he let off a bunch of tweets acting like he got hacked lol. Give this man an A+ for effort.”
Alicia Keys suffered a Blackberry hack attack
Imagine you’re the Hamburglar. You’ve got an amazing full-time gig with McDonald’s — great benefits, lenient hours. But then you get caught with your satchel full of Burger King Whoppers, and suddenly big Ron is on the line, and he wants answers.
Alicia Keys got herself into a similar pickle in 2013 when she was named “global creative director” for Blackberry, according to The New York Times. At the corporate announcement, Keys said she was now going to be “exclusively dating” Blackberry, though acknowledging her previous attraction to “hotter, sexier phones.” It’s unclear what duties the self-described “iPhone junkie” would have, but The Verge simply puts down Keys as the brand’s “in-house celebrity.”
Only a month after the announcement, though, Keys’ Twitter posted the message, “Started from the bottom now were here!” — but via the iPhone Twitter app. Keys also posted two photos at the Grammys with two iPhones “within arm’s reach,” according to Slate. Keys deleted the tweet and posted an amusing explanation, “What the h*ll?!!!! Looks like I’ve been hacked… I like @Drake but that wasn’t my tweet,” this time via Twitter Web Client, “which artfully masks what type of computer or device she is using to tweet,” notes The Verge. The new Blackberry phone Keys was hired to rep flopped hard, according to Yahoo, leading to billions in losses and layoffs at the company. Keys and Blackberry parted ways after only one year, and the Drake-loving hacker remains at large.
Carmelo Anthony hacked but not at the rim
In 2010, NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony was on the anxious precipice of signing an absolutely monstrous deal with the perennially awful New York Knicks worth over $21 million per year. This is how the NBA works for great players who want to get paid but aren’t worried about rings: you grind, the Knicks wildly overpay, you kick back while rich in NYC. Winning, optional.
But free agency might’ve taken a toll on “Melo” when he allegedly offered a bounty on an online troll. “I got 5k for whoever see @ihatestacks and slap the sh*t out of her pigeon face a**. Real talk. U f***ed with the right one now,” read a tweet captured by Deadspin. Carmelo allegedly followed with, “When u do it record it and send it to me along with name and address. Real Talk.” Apparently “hacked” Melo was going to mail a check — this was long before you could just Venmo for all your freelance felony assault work.
The threat was directed at Kat Stacks, who Billboard describes as a “hip-hop groupie.” Stacks replied, noting that the threats had gotten media pickup. Melo’s entire Twitter page went down, but he re-emerged claiming (via Deadspin), “I’m back on! My account was hacked. Thanks twitter for getting me str8.” Complex doubts this, writing, “even Stevie Wonder could see Melo wasn’t hacked.” Whoever composed the threat, the FBI profiler should note they tweet in the deft style of NBA star Carmelo Anthony.
Ray Allen got game
The accidental sext is the stuff of nightmares. It could even strike anyone, including, perhaps, even a legendary NBA all-time three-point scorer, like, say, Jesus Shuttlesworth himself, Ray Allen.
In 2010, Allen broke Micheal Jordan’s record for three-pointers in an NBA finals half. He also tweeted something memorable (captured via Huffpost), “think about my tongue or your ….” — the rest is too dirty to quote, but it was basically some long-distance dirty fantasy. The tweet was quickly deleted and followed by a familiar tale, “I’m sorry my acct was hacked into. I need to change my tweet handle.” Allen did indeed change his, removing the “sugar” before his name, but maybe not his game.
The hack story has doubters, though, Huffpost putting forward one theory: “It is unclear whether he was genuinely hacked or if he unintentionally made public what was meant to be a private message.” Notably, Allen also claimed he was hacked in 2017. The legendary shooter had caught some guff from former Celtics teammate Kevin Garnet for his abrupt departure to Miami. Allen’s official Facebook then posted a photo of Allen in a Heat uniform blazing by the suspect shackles of another former Celtics teammate, Rajon Rondo, according to NBC Sports. But when the feud began generating press, Allen’s publicist reached out to ESPN’s The Jump host Rachel Nichols and claimed the clapback was a breach. Jesus saves, but so do publicists.
Kevin Durant gets burned
Yes, this is the ballers section of celebrity “hack” disasters — moving forward to the king of the Twitter burner account, former NBA MVP and two-time NBA champion, Kevin Durant.
In 2014 Durant took a break from trolling and tweeted a grainy selfie of himself blowing out a monster plume of smoke that looks to be emanating from a Hookah, captured via Deadspin. Hookah is legal in the US, as normally constituted, but Durant quickly fired up Twitter again — and you know what’s coming, “Yoooo somebody hacked my phone though…it’s blowing me, not my twitter my phone.” He then claimed the hacker was contacting his mother, dad, and brother texting “crazy messages” and “disrespecting” them.
Some of the sports media, including Bleacher Report, was skeptical of Durant’s claim, writing the sharpshooter had simply “dialed up the old my-phone-was-hacked-excuse.” However, all-around good-guy Nick Collison took one for the team and backed up his guy, in response to the original Deadspin story, tweeting, “I saw the tweet come up on my timeline when he was outside the bus going through TSA security. He didn’t send it. Very weird.” Very weird indeed.
Bronny James shows Lebron James how it's done
In 2017 possible NBA GOAT Lebron James supposedly got caught sliding into the DMs. Instagram model Heidi Hoback revealed some court gossip on her Snapchat account, writing, “Athletes slide in girls dms all the time so this isn’t the craziest part but sheesh … biggest buck I’ve ever seen over here.” The message was sent on top of a screenshot of an Instagram DM allegedly sent by King James himself, reading, “Teach me how to hunt and I’ll teach you to play ball. Deal? Lol” (via Terez Owens).
Lebron has never addressed the controversy publicly, but anonymous sources, again via Terez Owens, say Queen James, Lebron’s wife Savannah, was none too happy, but that “LeBron refuses to admit he did anything wrong, and is telling people he was hacked.” Bron also publicly claimed his gram was hacked in 2012.
Lebron’s son Bronny James took a different tact when he got caught in another Instagram-related snafu in late 2020. The then 15-year-old hooper posted an IG story smoking what appeared to be some wacky tobacky. Bronny’s account even added a caption, “we smokin that Nuggets pack tonight” — this allegedly in reaction to his father beating the Denver Nuggets in game one of the 2020 NBA Western Conference Finals. The IG story was quickly erased but not before a fan could grab it for Twitter. Bronny, the savvy Gen-Z kid he is, didn’t extend the news cycle using the hackneyed hack line.
Chad Johnson ducks and dances
Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson didn’t just have fast feet and soft hands, he was one of the NFL’s genuine characters in his 11 season, six-time Pro Bowl career at wide-out, mostly for the Cincinnati Bengals. His end-zone celebrations are legendary, evolving from traditional Irish jigs to hilarious pantomime routines, like giving CPR to a football. His brand of showmanship was part of the reason the NFL started cracking down on these antics during the league’s brief “No Fun League” period.
Along with limiting celebrations, the NFL earlier instituted some rules changes in 2010 aimed at making this violent game a little less so — most because of the increased awareness of long-term complications from concussions. Hits that were once just hard-nosed football had flags flying high. Someone tweeted from Johnson’s account, “OCNNBreakingNews Due to the many rule changes there has also been a name change, NFL no longer, NFFL = National Flag Football League.”
Criticizing the league can cost NFL stars big bucks in fines, though. Savvy on and off the field; Johnson quickly dropped a follow-up tweet in the direction of NFL paterfamilias and commissioner Roger Goodell, “Dad my account was hacked for a matter of 5 minutes while i was cooking, just giving you a heads up, u raised me better than that.” Only a month earlier Johnson, shockingly, had a similar incident, claiming, “#hacked Somebody hacked my account with these aronious [sic] late night twitter after dark tweets, where’s the twitter police damit!”
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