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Long Island, Brooklyn homes raided by FBI in PayPal Hacking Hit

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents raided homes in Brooklyn and Long Island recently in connection with a hacker group called Anonymous that attacked PayPal’s Web site last year, the New York Daily News reports.

While there were no local arrests, agents in nine other states arrested 14 people after PayPal’s Web site endured a cyber attack last year after the company refused to accept payments to be sent to WikiLeaks in response to the thousands of leaked classified diplomatic cables. PayPal is a service that allows people to send and receive funds and make payments. WikiLeaks is a non-profit group that publishes classified information that it obtains from the government and private companies.
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While there haven’t been any local people arrested, it appears federal agents believe that some on Long Island and in Brooklyn bear responsibility for the crime. Computer crime charges in New York require an aggressive defense, regardless of the allegations. And cyber crimes can be difficult to prove because they occur over the Internet and not in public, like most crimes.

Anonymous, a hacker group that took responsibility for the compromise of PayPal’s site, said it did so after PayPal cut ties with WikiLeaks. PayPal had accused WikiLeaks of violating its policy prohibiting the payment service from being used for illegal activities and refused to process donations to the controversial whistleblowing site. The defendants are charged with conspiring to damage PayPal computers.

According to The Washington Post, arrests were made in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Washington D.C., Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio. The defendants ranged from 20 to 24. The group also claimed responsibility for disrupting the Web sites of Visa and MasterCard, when those companies stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks in December.

Bloomberg News recently reported that cyber crimes cost businesses millions of dollars not only to recover lost information, but also in drops to their stock prices after attacks. The article is based on the recent breach of Sony, whose PlayStation Network was attacked and thousands of users’ personal and financial information was exploited.

Bloomberg reports that cyber attacks in the United States made up 31 percent of data breaches in 2010, costing U.S. businesses about $7.2 million. About 85 percent of all U.S. companies have experienced one or more attacks.

Online-based crimes can be tough for law enforcement to crack, however. Because information can be sent and received through extensive networks and throughout the world, the charges can be difficult to prove. Knowing when and where an alleged crime occurred is also a challenge. Prosecutors must be able to pinpoint when a crime happened and where it happened in order to secure a conviction. Obviously, they must also be able to prove the accused participated.

Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney in New York is critical to protecting your rights. If you are suspected of a crime or are being investigated, don’t speak with law enforcement until you consult with an attorney. Your actions or words can be used against you. Protect your rights and seek justice.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides criminal defense in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.

Additional Resources:

Cops bust hackers who shut down PayPal after online payment service cut ties with WikiLeaks, by Alison Gendar and John Marzulli, New York Daily News
Sony Suspends Canada, Thai Web pages as Cyber Attacks Spread, by Mariko Yasu, Bloomberg
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