A 20-year-old university student from Las Vegas says on her Facebook page she likes volleyball and bowling; on his Facebook page, a 27-year-old Colorado man describes his main interests as cars, games, movies and racing on his profile; and a 21-year-old Florida man writes on his personal blog how he hates the state because of "old people," tourists and "illegal immigrants."
They're a disparate group, tied together by their arrests around the nation this week by the FBI in connection with the hacking group Anonymous.
Fourteen of the arrests were tied to Anonymous' attacks last December on PayPal as retribution for dropping WikiLeaks' donation account; another two people were arrested on other charges, one related to intrusion and theft from computer systems at InfraGard, which has an IT contract with the FBI; and another on similar charges involving AT&T. The ages of those charged range from 20 to 42 and included two women; one defendant's age and gender was not released by the feds, and is thought to be 16-year-old girl.
In an era of just about everything and anything is online, some of those charged previously posted personal details on various social networking websites, from Facebook to MySpace to Twitter. The veracity of those details aren't known, but they provide a snapshot of some of those charged.
Mercedes Renee Haefer's Facebook profile shows photos of a happy, playful young woman who graduated from high school in Arkansas in 2009, and says she is married. She lists herself as part of the "Class of 2014" at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with an emphasis in social sciences.
Her Facebook list of activities, aside from volleyball and bowling, also include playing video games on Xbox Live and the Sony PlayStation; her gamer tag is "Melloman92." On one Electronic Arts forum, she shared frustrations with another player about the soccer game "Fifa 11" freezing on "Career Mode":
"Every time I try to begin my next game on manager mode it freezes," she wrote. "I've tried to change my line-up and various other settings but nothing. I can't sim the game either because it goes through the same 'warming up...' process. Even if they do patch this I can't get internet on my PS3 so looks Im gonna have to start a new manager. Anyone overcome this problem or have any ideas of how to get around this?"
Another one of those charged, Drew Alan Phillips, 26, liked to help other gamers, it seemed, and was described by TPMIdeaLab as "an avid online gamer and frequent coding message board commenter."
Vincent Charles Kershaw
Vincent Charles Kershaw, 27, also charged, is from Fort Collins, Colo. His Facebook and MySpace pages show Kershaw's devotion to a primary interest: cars and his work, as a foreman for a landscaping company for the past three years.
Under "Books," he lists simply "service manuals." His preferred music includes rock, pop and country, with Taylor Swift and Nickelback among his favorites. If he is a hacker, or even interested in computers — other than playing the game "Halo" — it's not shared on Facebook. His MySpace page, last updated in May, still holds his personal writings about a past relationship and the pain he went through some years ago.
According to an Associated Press report, when Kershaw was charged this week in Denver on the hacking charges, Judge Craig Shaffer ordered him released on $10,000 unsecured bond, and as with other suspects in the case, banned him from Internet access, at least until a Sept. 1 hearing in federal court in San Jose, California.
Kershaw was also ordered to allow pretrial supervisors to check his home for Internet access, abstain from drugs and alcohol and submit to urinalysis tests.
Kershaw wore a brown jail jumpsuit and his wrists were cuffed to a chain around his waist. His brown hair was cropped short and he had a bushy beard the width of his mouth jutting from his chin.
He appeared amiable and relaxed, answering “yes, sir” to Shaffer’s questions. When Shaffer finished reading the conditions of Kershaw’s release, Kershaw said, “Sounds good.”
Scott Matthew Arciszewski, 21, of Orlando, is not among the 14; he is one of the two other defendants charged with intentional damage to a protected computer, in his case, for allegedly accessing the Tampa Bay InfraGard website without authorization and uploading three files.
"The complaint alleges that Arciszewski then tweeted about the intrusion and directed visitors to a separate website containing links with instructions on how to exploit the Tampa InfraGard website," the Department of Justice said. "InfraGard is a public-private partnership for critical infrastructure protection sponsored by the FBI with chapters in all 50 states."
The InfraGard hack made headlines because of its high-profile connection to the FBI. And Arciszewski — known as "voodooKobra" on Twitter and whose "Kobra's Corner" website — now taken down, but cached — featured not only information about InfraGard's computer security vulnerability, but an abundance of the Florida native's disdain for the state.
In a blog posting called "Florida sucks!" he listed "old people," tourists and "illegal immigrants" as the top reasons:
...the idea of waiting in traffic because some old guy doesn't remember where he is or which pedal accelerates doesn't appeal to me. ... Second only to the elderly in both aggravation and road congestion is tourism. Tourists all drive down to Florida at top speed just so they can drive around at 10 mph and gawk at the surroundings because nobody has ever seen a palm tree outside of the state of Florida before ... Don't listen to the tourism boards — Florida isn't beautiful. Florida is just a dried up old swamp that the old people flock to so they can die en masse. ... California through Texas and up have a problem with the number of illegal Mexicans in the population. In Florida, we get ... a growing population of both illegal Mexicans and Cubans. Throw in illegal Jamaicans turned drug-dealers and you have a recipe for disaster.
Arciszewski was released from custody, and has taken some steps to hide some information that had been viewable by anyone online. In addition to taking down his website, his Twitter feed with some of his last entries has been shielded from public view as "protected."
But some of those tweets were still visible earlier in the week, including one with an Anonymous leader known on Twitter as AnonymouSabu and another Anonymous member on July 18, a day before Arciszewski's arrest.
"Is this the 'fun' mission you guys were talking about, or is that something even better?" Arciszewski tweeted, although the context of that message is not known.
In the previous day, he also tweeted about his financial worries.
"I don't own a car and the only bicycle I own has no brakes and the handlebars are loose. I have less than $60 to my name until August."
"My cell phone is also currently out of service due to being broke. I tried to reactivate it today and (Metro PCS) went 'hahaha no.' "
Arciszewski's Facebook page, until this week, not only mentioned he is attending the University of Central Florida, but also his major, computer engineering. On Thursday, two days after his world turned upside down when he was arrested, the Facebook page reflected only that he was a student there, and not his area of study.
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