A Washington state man was charged with extortion after federal officials claim he launched a cyberattack against Dallas-based Leagle.com for refusing to remove the link to a court opinion involving him.
Kamyar Jahanrakhshan, also known as Andy Rakhshan, of Seattle, was arrested by the FBI on a federal extortion charge July 29. According to the criminal complaint, Leagle.com was contacted by an Andy Rakhshan, who emailed the website in late 2014 complaining a link to a court opinion he was the plaintiff in was “tarnishing his reputation” and violated his privacy. He offered to pay $100 to remove the link.
In a follow up email, Rakhshan claimed the court opinion in question was a criminal matter for which he was found guilty, though he denied his guilt. He demanded an explanation for why Leagle.com would not remove the link, offered another $100 to take it down, and closed with the words: “I DESERVE AN EXPLANATION NOW.”
On Jan. 24, 2015, Rakhshan sent yet another email to Leagle.com claiming he met with a group of hackers willing to launch a “massive cyber attack” on Leagle.com. The next day, the website received a message allegedly from the “Anonymous Hackers” claiming they’d launched a distributed denial of service attack on Leagle.com because it refused to remove the link. The attack subsided after Leagle.com removed the link.
A similar attack was brought to the attention FBI in Dallas in April 2015 after they learned Rakhshan allegedly communicated with Fairfax Media and requested that two articles involving his criminal case be removed from The Sydney Morning Herald’s website. The articles reference his conviction in a Canadian court for defrauding three Australian banks in order to buy a fleet of luxury cars and a boat. Rakhshan allegedly sent $500 to the media company as an incentive to remove the articles. He later launched a cyberattack against the newspaper’s website after they refused, according to the affidavit.
In September 2015, the Australian Federal Police informed the FBI in Dallas that Rakhshan had escalated his cyberattacks by threatening to “call in bomb threats to different places in courthouses in Vancouver.”
Rakshan faces a maximum of five years in prison if he’s found guilty. Kyana Givens, a Seattle assistant public federal defender who represents Rakshan, did not respond to a request for comment.