Seattle Man Arrested for the Attempted Extortion of Leagle.com and Several Other Media Companies
DALLAS — Kamyar Jahanrakhshan, aka “Kamyar Jahan Rakhshan,” “Andy or Andrew Rakhshan,” “Andy or Andrew Kamyar,” and “Kamiar or Kamier Rakhshan,” 32, of Seattle, Washington, was arrested today on a federal criminal complaint charging him with extortion by threats to cause damage to the Dallas, Texas hosting company for Leagle.com, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
According to the affidavit filed with the complaint, on December 30, 2014 Leagle.com, an aggregator of case law from Federal and certain State courts, was contacted by an individual by the name of Andrew Rakhshan by e-mail requesting that a URL linking to a court decision involving Rakhshan be deleted. Claiming that he was the plaintiff in the case, Rakhshan stated that he did not want the opinion available on the internet as it was tarnishing his reputation and violating his privacy. Rakhshan offered to pay a fee to have the post removed.
Between December 30, 2014 and January 16, 2015, Leagle.com received multiple e-mails signed by Andrew Rakhshan offering to pay for the removal of a court opinion in which Rakhshan was a party to. On January 24, 2015 Rakhshan again sent an e-mail claiming that he met a group of hackers online whom were willing to launch a massive cyber-attack on Leagle.com. Rakhshan claimed that he had no other options to resolve the matter. He threatened to use these hackers to conduct a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack to force Leagle.com to comply with his demands. On January 25, 2015, a large amount of traffic targeted the IP address for Leagle.com. The actions the company took could not mitigate the attack traffic. The attack subsided once the company removed the link to the court opinion.
Similar DDoS attacks were carried out by Rakhshan on Fairfax Media5, a media company in Australia and New Zealand; The Metro News, a daily newspaper; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; and Canada.com, a social media discussion site. At times Rakhshan escalated his threats from DDoS attacks to threats of bomb attacks.
A criminal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offense charged and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The government has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment. The maximum statutory penalty for the offenses as charged is 5 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case, with assistance from the FBI Dallas cyber squad, Seattle cyber task force, Toronto police department, and the Australian federal police. Assistant U.S. Attorney C.S. Heath is in charge of the prosecution.
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