A total of 16 people with ties to the “hacktivist” group “Anonymous” were arrested by the FBI on Monday. Fourteen of them were charged in connection with an attack on PayPal, which was targeted by “Anonymous” because the website suspended the account of WikiLeaks after it released classified State Department cables.
The arrests, the Justice Department said, took place in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio. The indictment against them was unsealed in federal court in the Northern District of California.
Two others were arrested for separate attacks on websites, including an AT&T contractor who allegedly downloaded confidential company information that was posted on Fileape.com.
Many of those arrested individuals form a motley crew of cashiers and college students, according to their Facebook profiles and frequent appearances on online message boards. Scott Arciszewski, arrested today in Florida, was a Sears sales associate who quickly took his website offline because his “parents don’t need the harassment.”
According to their Facebook profiles, Vincent Kershaw is a landscaper, while Mercedes Renee Haefer is a Sony cashier who listens to My Chemical Romance and majors in social sciences. Drew Alan Phillips, 26, is an avid online gamer and frequent coding message board commenter.
An affidavit from an FBI special agent reveals how the bureau tracked down 21-year-old Arciszewski of Florida, who is accused of attacking the Tampa Bay Infraguard website. First, they got the IP address of the individual who attacked the website with the account “AntiSecTest” on June 21. Then they used info on the Twitter account voodooKobra which posted a “bitly” link to the vulnerability he allegedly created with the phrase “Infraguard Tampa has one hell of an exploit.”
Based on the twitter info associated with the Twitter account, they visited his website at kobrascorner.com and did a Google search for his “VoodoKobra” screenname. They turned up his Wikipedia user page, which listed his real name as Scott Arciszewski. They compared his drivers license photo to the avatar on his account on hackforums.net and on his Facebook profile.
A Facebook profile indicates that Arciszewski has worked as a sales associate at Dollar General and Sears and studied at Edison State College.
The FBI also said it had executed more than 35 search warrants throughout the U.S. “as part of an ongoing investigation into coordinated cyber attacks against major companies and organizations.”
Those arrested today, according to the FBI, are: Scott Matthew Arciszewski, 21, 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;” Lance Moore, 21; 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. An additional individual’s name was being withheld.
Additional reporting by Zoe Schlanger.