DDoS hacker who left his wife for a fictitious online lover jailed for two years

Filed Under: Denial of Service, Law & order, Malware

MouseFor all its positive aspects, there are some pretty ugly things which happen on the internet too.

Take this extraordinary tale, for instance, of how two men falling out with each other, ignited into an attack which involved sadistic revenge, 100,000 compromised computers around the world, divorce and one of the men being sent to jail.

Yesterday, a New Jersey judge sentenced 48-year-old Bruce Raisley to two years in prison for launching a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against websites that had published humiliating stories about his adulterous "affair" with a fictitious online lover.

In the mid-2000s, computer programmer Raisley became uncomfortable with the techniques used by "Perverted Justice", a controversial group who posed as minors on internet chatrooms in an attempt to ensnare paedophiles, and questioned the legality of their activities.

This put Raisley at odds with the group's leader Xavier Von Erck, questioning the legality of the activities of "Perverted Justice", which collaborated with a US TV news program on a controversial feature called "To Catch a Predator".

As the men's conflict ignited, neither party showed themselves in the best light, and in 2005 Von Erck posed as a woman called "Holly" and began an erotic online relationship with Raisley.

You may think that's a mean but harmless prank, which doesn't do serious harm to anyone. But you're wrong.

Raisley told his wife that he was in love with "Holly" and flew to meet his fictitious lover at Little Rock airport in Arkansas. A photographer hired by Van Erck took pictures of Raisley carrying flowers, waiting for an internet lover who - of course - never appeared.

Transcripts of Raisley's erotic email exchanges with "Holly" and photos of him waiting for his non-existent lover at the airport were posted on the internet to add to his humiliation. Raisley ended up losing his job and wife, and no longer had any contact with his son.

Stories of about Von Erck and his Perverted Justice organisation were published in Radar Magazine and Rolling Stone, and republished on the website of the Rick Ross Institute.

Rolling Stone article

The published stories also included details of how Van Erck had humiliated Raisley.

Perhaps understandably, Raisley wasn't happy with the embarrassing story being published on the internet. His solution? To infect 100,000 computers around the world with malware and launch a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against websites hosting the tale of his humiliation.

The New Jersey court heard evidence that Raisley's internet attack targeted a number of websites, including Rolling Stone, Radar, Nettica, Corrupted Justice, and the Rick Ross Institute. In total it was claimed that the attacks cost the websites more than $100,000.

Raisley has now been sentenced to 24 months in prison for launching the malware that infected computers across the globe, and attacked the websites.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Robert B Kugler sentenced Raisley to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay damages of $90,386.34.

Things could, actually, have turned out even worse for Raisley. When found guilty last year, he was told he could expect a sentence of up to 10 years in jail, and a maximum fine of $250,000.

It's a truly tragic story, with neither Raisley or Von Erck demonstrating the best of characters, in my opinion.

But there is one clear moral - taking the law into your own hands is never a good idea.

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12 Responses to DDoS hacker who left his wife for a fictitious online lover jailed for two years

  1. Vicki Clark Harmon · 1195 days ago

    And why wasn't Xavier Von Erck convicted of some sort of crime? His credibility just became very low. What a jerk.

  2. Well, everyone involved in this made themselves look a prize idiot, didn't they?

  3. Elle · 1195 days ago

    I think he deserves it. More people should be getting jail time and fines for hacking. As far as the rest of it, I'd like to know what his issue was Perverted Justice initially. Is the guy a pedo or did he have some legitimate concern? It appears the site is still running, business as usual, which suggests his legality claims were bs. The "Holly" thing... that's well played, in my opinion. He exploited the guy's poor character. Got what he deserved. Family is probably better off without him.

    • Tyw7 · 1195 days ago

      Well I think what they did is wrong! They shouldn't fool him just to make fun to him.

      Just imagine you met someone online you like and you arrange to meet her online. Then when you turn up, only to have cameras point in your face rediculing you.

  4. Not sure about the question in the topic, but I do know this will not catch many peadophiles. What the police need are instances of bodily harm done to children, logins, and locations of servers hosting indecent material.

  5. The guy brought it all over himself. Actually I think he deserved worse punishment both from the Law and from his own life.

  6. blurry · 1195 days ago

    Man that is pretty screwed. Doesn't that count as defamation of character?

    • T.Anne · 1193 days ago

      I originally thought so too - but technically, what they're saying is still true... even if Holly isn't. He still entered into a emotional relationship with "Holly" and left his wife... I would think if anything, it'd be more of an entrapment issue... and I'm not sure how that works.

      • Chris Howie · 1179 days ago

        The laws on entrapment vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but they all share a common theme -- law enforcement coercing someone to do something illegal, that they otherwise wouldn't do on their own. I think it's safe to say in this case that if Holly would have been a real person, he would have tried to have an affair with her anyway. Additionally, as law enforcement was not involved, entrapment is not possible. (Entrapment refers specifically to the actions of law enforcement, not regular citizens.)

        It's like when an undercover cop sells drugs to someone. They don't force the drugs on them or twist their arm until they buy, they try to catch the attention of someone who wants to buy drugs already. Therefore the officer is not making the person do something they wouldn't normally do, he is just providing them with an opportunity to do it.

  7. ssleung · 1194 days ago

    He got what he deserved. You would think that as a hacker himself, he would have been smart enough to not fall for this.

  8. Cindy · 1193 days ago

    I agree that Xavier Von Erck should get some kind of punishment too! They are two of a kind, it seems!

  9. Gina · 1193 days ago

    The other moral to this tale is, get a life and don't over involve yourself with the Internet!

    Von Erck is right up there with the WikiLeaks creep (NBC hasn't programmed "Catch a Predator" on Dateline for a very long time, so there must be something questionable about Von Erck) and Raisley should have been more careful about his online dating choices and habits.

    Both of these guys are dolts. Unfortunately, Von Erck has not received what he deserves for fraud. The mother who impersonated a boy to ensnare a young girl, who later killed herself when the "boy" broke up with her, met justice. So should Von Erck.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.