Two computer experts who allegedly hacked into laptops owned by leading record producers had "thousands" of unreleased songs by stars including Mariah Carey, Shakira, and Lady GaGa, according to a report.
Cops in Germany busted the pair last year amid claims cyber-crooks had targeted leading music industry figures with a Trojan horse virus to steal never-before-heard tracks. It has now emerged officers discovered "a few thousand" stolen songs on a hard drive belonging to one of the men - and police fear the pair was part of a much wider hacking ring operating in the European country, with up to 100 IT experts involved.
Police documents suggest the gang had been working for three years with a "modus operandi that is still largely unknown", according to Germany's Der Spiegel magazine.
In December, it was announced that two men - identified only as Christian M. and Deniz A. - had been busted at properties in Duisburg and Wesel for hacking into computers and stealing unreleased songs by GaGa, Rihanna, and Justin Timberlake. But the Spiegel report suggests the conspiracy was far more widespread, with some of the world's top pop stars, including Carey and Shakira, among its victims.
Officials from America's Federal Bureau of Investigation are also involved in the probe amid claims hackers sold the songs to clients in Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. The magazine also reports Christian M. has confessed his role to cops, and told them at least 100 young hackers in Germany are involved.
A secretive website where cyber-crooks traded songs has since been shut down by officials in the U.S. - but a new one, based on the island group of Tonga in the South Pacific, has now been launched.