An Israeli man arrested last month for allegedly hacking Madonna’s private accounts and stealing demos of her unreleased album first began targeting the singer way back in 2012, according to authorities. He apparently hacked not only cloud storage accounts to steal and sell her music but also breached more than a dozen email accounts associated with the singer, including one connected to her manager.
Adi Lederman, a 39-year-old aspiring singer, allegedly began his hacking spree the same year he auditioned on air for the Israeli TV talent show Kohav Nolad (A Star Is Born). When Lederman was booted from the show he allegedly channeled his disappointment into hacking. Authorities say he hacked into a cloud storage account belonging to someone on Madonna’s team and copied an early version of the song 'Give Me All Your Luvin'' from her earlier album MDNA.
Then last March, authorities say he broke into three different cloud storage accounts to obtain demo files from Madonna’s new album 'Rebel Heart,' and hacked into an email account belonging to the office of Guy Oseary, Madonna’s Israeli-born manager. He also hit 15 other unspecified email accounts.
According to the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, Lederman set a system up to receive copies of all e-mails sent to the accounts, amassing tens of thousands of emails, photos, music files, and documents.
Among the files he stole were songs for Madonna’s upcoming 'Rebel Heart,' which is slated to be released March 6. The singer called the breach 'artistic rape' and a form of terror. Following the leak of the unfinished demo songs, Madonna’s team released the final versions of six of them through iTunes.
In addition to her songs, Lederman also reportedly stole a rehearsal tape for Madonna’s 2015 Grammy performance.
Lederman allegedly sold the music files, emails, and photos for as little as $20 to more than $1,000. A copy of the indictment, obtained by the Hollywood Reporter, reportedly identifies two potential co-conspirators who go by the names 'Craig Lunti' and 'Tom Hann.' Authorities say that following Lederman’s arrest last month, he ordered Lunti to delete their correspondence to thwart the investigation.
The Israeli has been charged with four counts, including computer trespassing, prohibited secret monitoring, copyright infringement and obstructing an investigation.
Lederman was arrested in Tel-Aviv following a joint investigation by the FBI, the internet crime unit of Israel’s anti-fraud police, and an Israeli private investigator. Madonna’s manager Oseary contact Asher Wizman, the private investigator right after the December 17 leak of demo songs from 'Rebel Heart'.
According to Alon Levy, head of high-tech investigations for Wizman Yaar Investigations, Oseary contacted his firm because it handles a lot of international investigations. An expert sent to New York to examine Madonna’s computers then confirmed that the hack had originated in Israel.
Levy told WIRED that his team spent a couple of weeks conducting an undercover investigation and surveillance before contacting police with what they’d found. 'After the undercover investigation they were sure that this is the right connection, and then we [contacted] the police,' he said.
In a raid of Lederman’s home, police seized computers and media storage devices and discovered that Madonna wasn’t the only victim. Lederman had allegedly hacked the computers of several international artists in order to steal unreleased demos and final tracks to sell.
During Lederman’s audition for Kohav Nolad in 2012 judges asked him what he did for a living. He replied, 'Mainly wasting my life away, it seems, because I’m told that I should be on stage.' For his audition, he sang the Stevie Wonder tune 'Don’t You Worry About a Thing.'