Duisburg: Two German hackers allegedly stole and sold unreleased tracks from pop stars, including Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake, via the internet, a state prosecutor said Wednesday.
A 17-year-old disc jockey from Duisburg and a 23-year-old from nearby Wesel allegedly wrote simple programmes - called Trojans because of their ability to enter private networks - to access unreleased tracks which they sold online.
"Basically we are talking about illegal bootlegged publication and spying on data using Trojans," said state prosecutor Rolf Haferkamp, confirming an earlier report in daily Neue Ruhr/Neuer Rhein Zeitung.
The alleged perpetrators have not yet been arrested or charged as investigations are still ongoing. Both still live with their parents, Haferkamp said.
He said musicians targeted by the scam hurriedly released their new albums and went on tour earlier than intended, due to the pressure generated by the illegal distribution of their tracks.
The prosecutor also alleged that the hackers had acquired a suggestive photo which they used to blackmail one of their victims, US singer Kesha.
The prosecutor said they had probably found the image by accident whilst searching for music, using relatively simple hacker software.
"The trick itself is nothing special. All it requires is a bit of know-how and perseverance to achieve criminal success," Haferkamp said.
Investigations had revealed that the pirated tracks were sold online. The prosecutor said the damage to the stars was likely to be far bigger than the money generated by the bootlegged sales, as tracks sold for more through official channels.
The alleged hackers were exposed by fans, who objected to music being sold from dubious sources. When they approached a fan club for US singer Kelly Clarkson, members became suspicious and contacted her agency. They in turn notified the police.