FBI: Alleged extortionist wanted to cyber-bomb insurance company

FBI arrests California man who threatened cyber campaign against New York Life

Threatening e-mails, false public statements and spam were all part of a California man's cyber-extortion plan against the New York Life insurance company, according to the FBI

The FBI said it arrested Anthony Digati of Chino, California on March 6, 2010, on charges of attempting to extort approximately $200,000 - which would go to $3 million if the firm didn't comply in time --  from a New York-based insurance company which was later identified as New York Life.  Digati allegedly threatened to make false public statements and blast computer spam in an effort to damage the reputation of the company and cost it millions of dollars in revenue. 

Digati is charged with one count of extortion through interstate communications. If convicted he faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 - all apparently because of a rejected claim. 

According to the FBI on February 22, 2010, more than a dozen employees, executives, and one board member of the life insurance company received an e-mail signed "Anthony Digati." The e-mail reads, in part, "I HIGHLY suggest you visit this website and contact me afterwards." The e-mail provides a website address that leads a viewer to a website created by DIGATI (the "Website"). 

The website includes, among other things, the following text: 

  • These things, unless you honor the below claim, WILL HAPPEN on March 8, 2010.
  • As you have denied my claim I can only respond in this way. You no longer have a choice in the matter, unless of course you want me to continue with this outlined plan. I have nothing to lose, you have everything to lose.
  • My demand is now for $198,303.88. This amount is NOT negotiable; you had your chance to make me an offer, now I call the shots.
  • I have 6 MILLION e-mails going out to couples with children age 25-40, this e-mail campaign is ordered and paid for. 2 million go out on the 8th and every two days 2 million more for three weeks rotating the list. Of course it is spam, I hired a spam service, I could care less, The damge [sic] will be done.
  • I am a huge social networker, and I am highly experienced. 200,000 people will be directly contacted by me through social networks, slamming your integrity and directing them to this website within days.
  • I think you get the idea, I am going to drag your company name and reputation, through the muddiest waters imaginable. This will cost you millions in lost revenues, trust and credibility not to mention the advertising you will be buying to counter mine. Sad thing is it's almost free for me!
  • The process is in motion and will be released on March 8th, 2010. If you delay and the site goes live, The price will then be $3,000,000.00. 

The cyber-extortion bust follows another high-profile hig-tech arrest in January. In that case the FBI said arrested Matthew Delorey of New Bedford, Connecticut for allegedly selling modified cable modems that enabled free Internet access. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison for each charge, and a $250,000 fine. 

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter @ nwwlayer8

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