DALLAS (CN) – A Seattle man was arrested Friday and charged with extortion: allegedly threatening a Dallas-based case law aggregator website with cyberattacks if an unflattering court decision about his criminal history was not taken down.
Federal prosecutors announced the arrest of Kamyar Jahanrakhshan, 32, on a criminal charge of extortion by threats to cause damage to Leagle.com. If convicted, he faces up to 5 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
A man named Andrew Rakhshan allegedly contacted the website in December 2014 and asked that a link to the offending court decision be taking down,
“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,” according to an affidavit filed with the complaint. “Rakhshan offered to pay a fee to have the post removed.”
Jahanrakhshan had been accused by Canadian authorities of interfering with a police investigation and running a credit card scam using cards in his name to buy several luxury cars and a boat, according to CBC News.
Prosecutors say Rakhshan continued to send email messages for several weeks offering to pay for removal of the link.
“On January 24, 2015 Rakhshan again sent an e-mail claiming that he met a group of hackers online who were willing to launch a massive cyber-attack on Leagle.com,” prosecutors said in a statement. “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 website was unable to mitigate the attack traffic, which subsided when it removed the link.
Prosecutors accuse Rakhshan of carrying out similar cyberattacks on the CBC, Canada.com, The Metro News newspaper and Fairfax Media5, a media company in Australia and New Zealand.
“At times Rakhshan escalated his threats from DDoS attacks to threats of bomb attacks,” prosecutors said.