Fort Myers man arrested, charged with cyber attack on Calif. software company
Melissa Montoya reports:
A 29-year-old Fort Myers man was arrested after an FBI investigation found he allegedly shut down a San Diego software company’s website.
Gerard “Jerry” M. McTear III was taken into custody Friday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He allegedly took the website down on June 6, 2016 and told them he would allow the website back online in exchange for digital currency.
McTear was charged with threatening to damage and intentionally damaging computers. The company refused to pay the bribe and lost about $5,000 in business, the attorney’s office reported.
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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California issued a press release on March 3:
A Florida man was arrested this morning on charges that he intentionally shut down a San Diego software company’s website and refused to restore it until the business paid him money.
Gerard “Jerry” M. McTear III was taken into custody in Ft. Myers, Florida this morning. In an indictment unsealed today, McTear was charged with threatening to damage and intentionally damaging computers. These computers hosted the San Diego software company’s website.
Specifically, on June 6, 2016, the defendant used the internet to shut down the software company’s website. He sought to extort cryptocurrency from the company in return for allowing the website to resume functioning. The company refused to pay the proffered bribe, and lost over $5,000 in business as they worked to get their website back on-line.
The defendant was arraigned today in the United States District Court for the Fort Myers Division, Middle District of Florida. The United States will seek his removal to the Southern District of California to face charges here.
“This kind of sabotage can be devastating for companies,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson. “We are prepared to go after every type of criminal, even if we have to chase him or her through cyberspace to safeguard businesses.”
“The FBI has the expertise and resources to investigate denial of service and other evolving cyber crimes,” said Eric S. Birnbaum, Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office. “This case is an example of the trend we continue to see involving traditional crimes migrating to cyberspace. The FBI will continue to educate and work with the business community to combat this growing crime trend.”
These type of cyber attacks have recently become widespread and cyber agents with the FBI are investigating similar cases. The FBI encourages businesses that have been victimized to ignore ransom demands in order to avoid appearing vulnerable and to avoid being targeted again for a higher amount. Anyone who feels they have been a victim of a cyber crime involving extortion or denial of service attacks is encouraged to contact their local FBI or to file a complaint through the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
DEFENDANT Case Number: 17-CR-0501-JAH
Gerard “Jerry” M. McTear, III Age:29 Ft. Myers, FL
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Count 1 – Fraud in Connection with Computers, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(5)(A) and 1030(c)(4)(B)(i)
Maximum Penalty: 10 years and $250,000 fine
Count 2 – Threat to Damage a Computer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(7)(A) and 1030(c)(3)(A)
Maximum Penalty: 5 years and $250,000 fine
Count 3 – Threat to Injure Property Through Interstate Communications, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875(d)
Maximum Penalty: 2 years and $250,000 fine