The FBI has announced the arrest of two men for attempting to extort $1,3 million from actor Tom Cruise for which they would return to him photos of his wedding, which had been stolen.
The two who were arrested are David Hans Schmidt, 47, of Arizona, who was arrested in West Hollywood on July24. 2007and Marc Gittleman, 33, who lives in West Hollywood, and was arrested at his residence on July 26, 2007. Schmidt is out on $100,000 bail. Gittleman has not yet had an appearance in court.
In May 2007, Schmidt contacted authorized representatives of Tom Cruise and said he had about 4,000 photographs not only of tom Cruise, but also of many of the celebrities who were guests at the wedding which had taken place in November of 2006. In order to prove he had the pictures, he preceded to send e mails with the photos as attachments. A private investigator was hired and in June and in the course of his investigation conducted an undercover operation in which Schmidt, who brought multiple wedding photos to show him as proof. Schmidt said he did not know how the photos were obtained and he was acting on behalf of a “Mr. X.” He further claimed that he could sell the images in foreign countries without worry because they were countries where U.S. copyright laws are not enforced.
Schmidt, also threatened to post the photos on the Internet and/ or sell the photos on the black market. He also sent emails to the effect that he did not care that his actions were illegal.
On July 24th a meeting was arranged between Schmidt and the representative, at which there was also an undercover FBI agent. It was at this meeting that Schmidt was arrested taken into custody and charged with being the one to send the e mails.
The FBI investigation led to the identification of the mysterious Mr. X to be Marc Gitterman, who works out of his home operating a computer data recovery business. The photographer who took the original wedding pictures had contacted Gillerman to fix the hard drive of his computer when it failed. And the pictures were on that hard drive.
He was able to recover the data from the failed hard drive and proceeded to make copies of the photos for himself. Before he returned the hard drive to the photographer.
He then found Schmidt through a post he had made on the internet in which he stated that he had the ability to negotiate the sale of celebrity photos.
At this point, the investigation is still on going.