Federal officers arrested a Seattle man this week for allegedly launching denial-of-service attacks against the legal news site Leagle.com after the company refused his demands to remove court documents about the alleged hacker’s past criminal activity.
Kamyar Jahanrakhshan, also known as Andrew Rakhshan, faces charges for hacking, extortion and making death threats. He is accused of attacking Leagle in 2015 while allegedly claiming to be part of “the anonymous hackers group.” Canada’s Metro News, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Sydney Morning Herald and others also received requests and then demands to remove news and court documents about past criminal charges and lawsuits.
The documents in question involve a 2006 conviction for theft in Washington state and a June 2010 news report outlining accusations that Rakhsahn ran “an international credit card scam to finance his taste for the high life and interfering with a police investigation.” He was arrested in 2009 after a Vancouver boat chase in which he was trailed by a bailiff hired by a car dealership that accused Rakhsahn of fraudulently buying luxury cars. The boat was also bought on bogus credit, reports said.
An Iranian-born U.S. citizen, Rakhshan began reaching out to Leagle late in 2014 and even offered to pay the site $100 to remove information about him because he claimed it tarnished his reputation and violated his privacy. He signed his real name in multiple emails to Leagle’s owners.
The charges in Canada against him resulted in a trial and conviction for fraud and obstruction that led to a 18-month prison sentence beginning in 2011. He was deported from Canada to the United States, where he maintains his innocence.
By Jan. 25, 2015, requests had escalated past demands and beyond just threats of “a massive cyberattack.” Leagle received an email from “Anonymous Hackers” at “firstname.lastname@example.org” beginning “We are the anonymous hackers group.” The message claimed to be from the famous hacktivist collective and announced a denial of service attack against Leagle “on behalf of Mr. Andrew Rakhshan who is being unjustly victimized by you.”
The case — http://www.leagle.com/decision/In%20WACO%2020090427897 — was removed from the site after 8 hours of downtime due to attack.
The emails demanded the removal of the court documents and threatened further attacks if refused. Similar emails were sent to the CBC and Morning Herald. Later in 2015, Australian and Canadian police say Rakhshan issued bomb threats to the Sydney and Toronto-based newspapers as well as death threats to employee’s family members.
In February 2016, the Herald was also hit with a denial-of-service attack. “Be wise,” the attacker wrote.
Rakhshan was arrested on Wednesday and is being kept in detention for fear that he would otherwise flee.