Maroney's lawyers confirmed that the leaked nude images of the U.S. gymnast were taken at the time when she was not yet 18. This means that the people who are involved in the leak and those who are storing copies of the images on their PCs could face a lawsuit on child abuse.
Maroney joins other celebrities such as model Kate Upton and actress Jennifer Lawrence as the latest unknowing victims of online hacking after their private images were reportedly leaked online. While Maroney publicly claims that the images are fake, her lawyer's action on sending a letter to the porn sites is a strong indication that the images are indeed authentic.
Under U.S. and other laws, owning or sharing explicit images of a person who's under 18 is considered illegal. In the case of Maroney, the FBI is already investigating the leak and is targeting the gang that is behind the widespread hacking of female celebrities. Apart from being charged with photo theft, the perpetrators could also be facing more serious charges for their illegal act.
Any person found guilty of viewing or downloading the alleged images of Maroney could face child abuse charges under the U.S. and the U.K. laws. Moderators on Reddit, a popular discussion board site, warned users on one of its "subreddit" discussion threads upon learning that the alleged images ended up on the site. "The reddit.com site admins have let us know that McKayla Maroney was underage in the photos as well and that we need to remove them. If we don't remove them, then this subreddit will most likely be banned (very quickly)," says the site.
According to a report, there is one member of a gang that regularly hacks iCloud accounts in exchange for cash. The person had successfully accessed over 400 pictures of more than 100 celebrities and posted them at the 4chan website. Apple gave its reaction in a statement. "We have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the internet," says Apple. "We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved."
Based on evidence, it is suggested that the members of the gang are sporadically distributed in various geographical locations. One is said to operate a Dutch image hosting site. Then there is one who works in a U.S. based Midwestern computer server company. A third one has been identified as someone who is independently wealthy because of a retail business in computing patent.