7:22am PT by Eriq Gardner
'Wolf of Wall Street' Backer Says It Has Been Hacked, Surveilled and Harassed
Red Granite Pictures, the finance company behind The Wolf of Wall Street, Dumb and Dumber To and the upcoming Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg comedy Daddy's Home, claims in a new lawsuit that it has been the subject of a malicious hack that has intimidated employees and disrupted its business.
According to a complaint filed against anonymous individuals on Wednesday, the film company's employees began receiving mass emails beginning on July 10 consisting of "defamatory blog postings or reports alleging improper activities allegedly connected with Plaintiff, often accompanied by sensational or offensive subject lines."
Red Granite says the recipients included individuals whose email addresses weren't public information.
"Upon information and belief … Defendants unlawfully and without permission obtained access to Plaintiff's computer systems, and used that unauthorized access to, among other things, collect nonpublic information on Plaintiff's business operations, employee lists, and internal communications."
Launching at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011, Red Granite has been the subject of much intrigue. One of its principles, Riza Aziz, is the stepson of Malaysian prime minister Najib Abdul Razak. The company has detractors. Around the release of Wolf of Wall Street, one website questioned the source of the company's money. The allegation that big Hollywood films were being financed by dirty money was picked up in a racketeering claim made against Red Granite by producers of the original Dumb and Dumber. The case was later settled.
The new lawsuit is vague on whether there's a connection, but harassing emails are said to have prompted Red Granite to "retain information security consultants and expend increased resources on this cat-and-mouse game attempting to block the daily harassment."
But it goes beyond unwelcome emails.
"At the same time Plaintiff’s employees were targeted by daily harassing emails, one of Plaintiff’s outside advisors was also threatened by Defendants," states the lawsuit.
This outside advisor, a "senior executive," kept getting phone calls in the middle of the night from "spoofed" locations.
In the first call, an anonymous individual purporting to be a "former co-worker" warned the advisor to stay away from an executive at Red Granite. The complaint reports that the advisor was also the victim of "surveillance."
Represented by attorneys at Boies Schiller & Flexner, Red Granite is asserting violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, tortious interference with business relations, invasion of privacy and stalking.