Sony Hack Identity Theft Victim: I Can't Find a Job Now
Freelance film accountant Nicole Basile's name was used in emails sent by hackers pointing journalists to stolen files, after which she was flooded with calls, texts and emails
This story first appeared in the Jan. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Freelance film accountant Nicole Basile's phone began buzzing nonstop Dec. 3 with calls, texts and emails from family, friends and reporters. With no warning, the 31-year-old payroll specialist found herself in the middle of the Sony cyberattack. A THR story that day described emails sent by hackers pointing journalists to stolen files as coming from a sender identified as "firstname.lastname@example.org." Before the article ran, THR attempted to contact Basile through her LinkedIn account, which, it turned out, she rarely uses. Sony also declined to say whether anyone by that name had worked at the studio, though she was listed on IMDb as an accountant on 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man.
"I had no idea what was going on," says the Los Angeles-based Basile of the fact that hackers had stolen her identity. "I was like, 'What are people talking about: Files? Me and Sony? I don't know what this is.' " Basile, who has worked in film for eight years, adds: "I'm absolutely not involved in this hack. I have no idea why my name was used. I left Sony on great terms. They asked me to do another project after I'd finished with them, but I was already committed to a different project."
Why the hackers chose Basile is equally mystifying. (Another Nicole Basile in Florida also had her identity stolen recently.) Over the course of the eight data dumps at press time, the hackers had used several other email aliases, including Michael Lewis (author of Moneyball, which was adapted into a Sony movie) and Lesley Goldberg (THR's TV news editor).
Basile says the association has made it difficult to find a job after her most recent one ended Dec. 12. Her attorney Neville Johnson fired off a letter to Leah Weil, Sony Pictures' top lawyer, asking that the studio clear Basile's name. "The FBI has contacted [Basile]," says the letter. "Others are contacting her employer. She is rightfully very worried about her future." As of press time, she hadn't receive a response. Says Basile: "It's so demoralizing. You work so hard, and someone uses your name and it shatters everything you've worked for."