Wednesday, July 20, 2011

14 arrested in hack attack on Paypal

NEW YORK — FBI agents raided two Long Island, N.Y., homes and one in Brooklyn Tuesday as part of a nationwide sweep against hacker groups that have taken credit for breaking into corporate websites, the FBI said.

Raids around the country resulted in 16 arrests in 10 states — but none in the New York area — and the execution of 32 search warrants, according to a Justice Department news release. The arrests and searches had a dual purpose, the Justice Department said.

The arrests — from California to Massachusetts — were made mostly in connection with a December attempt to disrupt the website of PayPal, an online money-transfer site, by a group called Anonymous, the news release said.

Anonymous members acted illegally to disrupt PayPal after it refused to process donations for WikiLeaks, the group that distributed a torrent of classified State Department cables last year, the Justice Department said. Two of those arrested Tuesday were charged with other hacking incidents.

In addition, the 35 searches were made as part of a larger investigation "into coordinated cyber attacks against major companies and organizations," the Justice Department said.

The raids on Long Island and in Brooklyn were on Carley Court in Merrick; Seaman Avenue in Baldwin; and on McKibben Street in Brooklyn.

Computers at those addresses had been used to hack unidentified organizations, sources said. The sources stressed there was no evidence that people at the three addresses were involved in illegal hacking, but they were being questioned.

It's possible that computers at those addresses had been taken over through the Internet to be used in hacking attacks without the knowledge of the owners, the sources said.

Neighbors of the raided Merrick home said FBI agents left with large bags. Elderly people live in the house, neighbors said. In Baldwin, neighbors said a teen at the house is quiet and on the computer a lot, but doesn't get in trouble. And in Brooklyn, the apartment is occupied by new tenants after the previous renters left, the superintendent said, adding that agents took nothing from the loft. A neighbor said the previous tenants were musicians who didn't seem interested in computers.