Anonymous Hackers Plead Guilty PayPal Attacks
December 9, 2013

13 Anonymous Hackers Plead Guilty To 2010 PayPal Attack

Peter Suciu for – Your Universe Online

Members of the international hacking collective known as Anonymous have pleaded guilty to the December 2010 cyber attack on PayPal. The pleas were entered in a California federal court on Thursday and were announced on Friday by the United States Attorney’s Office in San Francisco.

This comes almost a year to the date from when Anonymous member Christopher Weatherford also pleaded guilty to attacking the MasterCard, Visa and PayPal websites.

The 2010 attacks were reportedly carried out in response to PayPal’s suspension of a WikiLeaks’ account, which meant the free information site could no longer receive donations via PayPal. Anonymous referred to the coordinated Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) cyber-attack against PayPal in December 2010 as “Operation Avenge Assange.”

In total, 13 members of the hacktevist group pleaded guilty, including 11 men and two women. Ten of the members pleaded guilty to felony charges, however they will be allowed to change that plea to a misdemeanor next year if they do not violate terms of the agreement before sentencing, the US attorney said in a statement. The remaining three defendants have already agreed to misdemeanor charges.

The 13 aren’t anonymous any longer, and include: Joshua John Covelli, who was known as Toxic and Absolem; Christopher Wayne Cooper, who was known as Anthrophobic; Mercedes Renee Haefer, known as MMMM and No; Keith Wilson Downey; Donald Husband, known as Ananon; Ethan Miles; James C. Murphy, Christopher Quang Vo, Tracy Ann Valenzuela; Daniel Sullivan; Drew Alan Phillips, known as Drewo10; Jeffrey Puglisi, known as Jeffer; and Vincent Charles Kershaw, known as Triv.

The individuals were charged back in early October of this year, and they range in age from 16 to 65 years old.

All of the defendants have been released on bond, with the sentencing scheduled for 12 of the individuals on December 4, 2014; while Valenzuela will be sentenced separately on November 20, 2014.

Under the terms of the plea agreements, unless a defendant violates any terms of the agreement or fails to accept responsibility, at the time of sentencing, that defendant would only face the misdemeanor count of violating of 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(5)(A) to be entered as a final judgment against the defendant.

According to the DOJ the sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of US Sentencing Guidelines - which for this misdemeanor charge carry a maximum of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine - and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence.

This prosecution is the result of an investigation that was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in cooperation with PayPal. In addition, authorities from the Netherlands, Germany and France provided investigation and enforcement assistance.

The 2010 attack on PayPal by the hackevist group is not the only such action it has made against the online currency transfer service, which is owned by eBay. In November of 2012, Anonymous posted some of its exploits via its Twitter account including its efforts to bring down PayPal and Symantec on Guy Fawkes Day.