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Woman charged with stealing nude pics of baseball star

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A Minnesota woman has been charged with stealing racy photos of Cleveland Indians centerfielder Grady Sizemore from the email account of his Playboy bunny girlfriend.

The 15-photo set, which Sizemore shot himself with his cellphone, were posted to the internet about a year ago, although most have since been removed, following take-down demands. In some, the baseball star is clothed, while others show him au naturel, mostly as he stands in front of a bathroom mirror. One of the pics shows him holding a Playboy picture of his girlfriend Brittany Binger, who was the magazine's playmate of the month in June 2007.

The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reports that 19-year-old Leah M. Ayers has been charged with two counts of unauthorized computer access in connection with the theft. The paper cited court documents that said her laptop was used to view Binger's Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace accounts and that personal information from those sites may have bee used to change Binger's password and access her account in August 2009.

Binger complained to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which served search warrants on Yahoo to trace the email hacker's IP address to Ayer's parents, who live in the Minneapolis suburb of Apple Valley.

It's the latest episode to demonstrate the insecurity of password-reset features offered by Yahoo, and so many other online services, which allow users to reset passwords based on the answers to questions such as what high school did you attend? That folly is only compounded by clueless users who make hackers' jobs easier by posting the answers to Facebook and other social networks.

The technique was used by Sarah Palin email hacker David Kernell, who on Friday was sentenced to 366 days in custody. It was also used by several accused and convicted “sextortionists” who used password-reset features to steal racy photos of girls and woman.

Yahoo's password reset feature now defaults to sending a temporary password to a user's cell phone. That may or may not be a more secure alternative, depending on how many people get hold of a user's cellphone on a regular basis.

Ayers is summoned to appear in court on November 29. ®

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