Hacker guilty of Web attack

The Courier-Post, New Jersey/September 23, 2010

Camden - Bruce Raisley didn't like two magazine stories that gave embarrassing details of his love life.

And so, federal prosecutors said, the 49-year-old programmer launched a virus that infected about 100,000 computers around the world. Then he commanded the "zombie computers" to attack websites with the offending stories, blocking public access and causing damages estimated at more than $100,000.

A federal jury convicted Raisley Wednesday after a six-day trial here. His offense: Launching a malicious computer program designed to attack computers and Internet websites, causing damage.

He faces a potential sentence of up to 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine, as well as having to make restitution, said the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Raisley, who currently lives in Kansas City, Mo., was tried in Camden because one of his victims, the website for the Trenton-based Rick A. Ross Institute of New Jersey, is in this state, said Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The articles that upset Raisley told how he was duped during a bitter feud when a male foe contacted him online, posing as a woman named Holly. Raisley eventually agreed to leave his wife for Holly, and when he flew to an airport to meet her, his adversaries secretly filmed him waiting for a nonexistent girlfriend, authorities said.

"Regardless of Raisley's motivations, his attacks on computer systems were misdirected vengeance," said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, who called the defendant a "cybercriminal."

Raisley's federal public defender, Joseph Yauch, could not be reached.

The Cult Education Institute is a nonprofit organization that studies cults.

Authorities said Raisley's feud began after he had a falling out with Xavier Von Erck, the founder of a group, Perverted Justice, that worked with the Dateline NBC television show "To Catch a Predator." Raisley initially volunteered in the group's efforts to identify pedophiles, but later became a vocal critic of Von Erck, authorities said.

Van Erck retaliated by starting the online relationship with Raisley as "Holly." A Perverted Justice volunteer later photographed Raisley waiting to meet "Holly," officials said.

The story of the feud appeared in articles published by Radar magazine in September 2006 and in Rolling Stone in July 2007. Those articles, which were posted to multiple websites, also discussed techniques used by Perverted Justice and Dateline NBC to expose pedophiles, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

"The two articles proved popular, and were later posted on a number of websites," the agency noted in a statement Wednesday. That prompted Raisley to launch "denial of service attacks" from June through September of 2007, officials alleged.

One of those attacks shut down a website for four days, according to federal officials. Another targeted a specific page at Rolling Stone's website, the one that showed the unflattering article.

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