Sixteen arrested in Anonymous hacking investigation

Posted Jul 19, 2011 by Kim I. Hartman
The FBI announced today that they had conducted a series of raids in 10 states this morning resulting in the arrest of 16 individuals associated with the hacking group Anonymous. The investigation was related to the cyber-attack on PayPal's website.
Thomas Samson, AFP/File
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's prepared statement said 14 of the Anonymous hackers arrested had allegedly been involved with the December 'Distributed Denial of Service' (DDoS) attack on the PayPal website that the hacking group Anonymous coordinated and executed. The group claimed responsibility for the cyber-attack in communication released on Twitter immediately afterwards.
Anonymous has most recently claimed responsibility for hacking Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting company and government contractor, releasing over 90,000 military email accounts and passwords, reported Digital Journal.
The FBI said the cyber-attack by Anonymous was in retaliation for PayPal’s termination of service for WikiLeaks’ donation account. According to the indictment, the loosely organized group of hackers referred to the DDoS attacks on PayPal as "Operation Avenge Assange." The cyber-attack took place over a five-day period, according to the FBI.
Today's simultaneous raids, which are being called a 'major operation' by the FBI, were conducted in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, and Ohio. The raids were orchestrated to take place immediately following the unsealing of the indictment in the Northern District of California in San Jose which named the defendants who were arrested.
"The individuals named in the indictment are: Christopher Wayne Cooper, 23, aka “Anthrophobic;” Joshua John Covelli, 26, aka “Absolem” and “Toxic;” Keith Wilson Downey, 26; Mercedes Renee Haefer, 20, aka “No” and “MMMM;” Donald Husband, 29, aka “Ananon;” Vincent Charles Kershaw, 27, aka “Trivette,” “Triv” and “Reaper;” Ethan Miles, 33; James C. Murphy, 36; Drew Alan Phillips, 26, aka “Drew010;” Jeffrey Puglisi, 28, aka “Jeffer,” “Jefferp” and “Ji;” Daniel Sullivan, 22; Tracy Ann Valenzuela, 42; and Christopher Quang Vo, 22."
One individual arrested today's name has been withheld by the Federal Court.
According to the public statement, which was also posted on the Department of Justice website, "the defendants are charged with various counts of conspiracy and intentional damage to a protected computer."
The group also claims responsibility for cyber-attacks on Visa and Master Card during the same period as the attack on PayPal. No charges have been filed in those cases which are part of an ongoing cybercrimes investigation.
In a separate complaint filed in the Middle District of Florida, Scott Matthew Arciszewski, 21, was arrested today by FBI agents on charges of intentional damage to a protected computer belonging to Tampa Bay InfraGard website. The FBI said Arciszewski bragged about his hacking exploits on Twitter.
Lance Moore, 21, of Las Cruces, N.M., was named in a third indictment unsealed today in the District of New Jersey. "Moore allegedly stole confidential business information that was stored on AT&T’s servers and posted it on a public file sharing site."
In total 35 warrants were executed by FBI agents in the United States today, raising the total to 75 searches since the investigation began last year. The agents seized computers and computer accessories at each location.
The FBI said today's operation was in coordination with the 'Metropolitan Police Service in the United Kingdom who made one arrest and the Dutch National Police who arrested an additional four' hacktavists in related cyber-crimes.
The sixteen defendants face from five to ten years in prison and up to $250,000 fine for each charge.