U.S. authorities announced Friday the arrest of a man in connection with cyberattacks and attempted extortion on a U.S. law website, several Canadian and Australian news sites that refused to scrub his name from the internet.
U.S. Attorney John Parker says 32-year-old Kamyar Jahanrakhshan was arrested Friday and charged with extortion by threats to cause damage to the Dallas-based hosting company for Leagle.com, which provides copies of court decisions, the CBC , The Metro News, Canada.com and the Sydney Morning Herald.
According to the attorney general’s office, Jahanrakhshan, from Seattle, threatened Leagle.com with a cyberattack if the firm didn’t remove a court opinion from its website detailing a case he was involved with in Canada.
Leagle.com reported its website was attacked January 2015 and the attack didn’t stop until it removed the opinion from its site.
The website 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,” according to an affidavit filed with the complaint. “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.”
According to the attorney general’s office, Jahanrakhshan went by several names including “Andy or Andrew Rakhshan.”
According to court documents, Jahanrakhshan sent an email to the legal website claiming he met a “group of hackers online whom are willing to launch a massive cyberattack.” The man threatened that the group would launch a “distributed denial of service” (DDoS) attack on the site.
In January 2015, Jahanrakhshan sent an email to Metronews.ca, allegedly threatening the news site with a DDos attack if it didn’t delete articles about him from the site, court documents show.
“Since I have been deported from Canada and have been banned from entering it for LIFE, I want it out of my life. I cannot afford to be haunted and followed by this ordeal wherever I go in the world,” Jahanrakhshan said in an email, according to an affidavit. “If you do not comply with my demand, Metronews.ca will be hit with a massive cyberattack (DDOS).”
Jahanrakhshan was deported from Canada in 2014 after spending 18 months in prison on fraud and obstruction charges.
Jahanrakhshan also threatened “death/bomb threats to Metro Offices across Canada and to their employees,” according to the court documents.
“I will continue this trend for as long as necessary until you succumb and press ‘delete,’ Jahanrakhshan wrote, according to court documents.
Jahanrakhshan sent similar emails and carried out cyberattacks on the CBC, Canada.com and Fairfax Media properties in Australia and New Zealand, according to the attorney general’s office.
In the emails Jahanrakhshan would often offer to pay for the removal of the links and news stories before threatening the DDoS attacks, according to court documents.
Jahanrakhshan faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
–with a file from the Associated Press