Ironically, the gH case was "one of those that we didn't want to do anything with," Yarbrough said, "it just didn't seem like a big deal at first." But the attacks wouldn't stop; they were brazen, Yarbrough said and when they found out how extensive the group's membership was, given the evidence gathered from the conference calling tapes, "we knew we had to do something." In addition, the attacks by gH members "just kept coming," not unlike a gang of thugs that vandalises a neighbourhood night after night, Yarbrough said.
Yarbrough dubbed gH a "cybergang" citing its gang-like organisation structure and the types of crimes its members indulged in, which included trafficking in stolen credit card numbers and a kind of digital extortion.
Members of gH would break into a computer system and Gregory would then come along and say, "'You know, I can stop those rocks coming from your front window and destroying your business if you pay me some money,'" Yarbrough said, "A bunch of different companies got calls like that."
From street to cyberspace
In an interview with ZDNN last year after the Mother's Day raids, Gregory and other members of gH said the group had "gone legit." In a rambling online interview session, members of gH proclaimed that the raids and their pending consequences essentially had them "scared straight."
Though no further Web defacements were attributed to gH members, since they "went legit," however, investigators say that not all illegal activity by gH members stopped after their public declaration.
In fact, some investigators say that the denial-of-service attacks launched on the FBI in the aftermath of the Mother's Day raid bear "striking similarities" to the high-profile attacks earlier this year against Yahoo and Amazon.com, among others.
Gregory is a known street gang member in the Houston area, Yarbrough said. Gregory had previously told ZDNN that he thought of computers as "his way out" of the gang lifestyle and that he planned to make a career out of them.
But ZDNN has learned that recently Gregory was involved in what authorities will only describe as "serious gang-related activity."
What made gH and Gregory such an interesting case, Yarbrough said, is the way he organised the online group and held it together.
Hacker groups are notorious for their flighty memberships and volcanic lifespans, with rosters sometimes changing daily as groups splinter over nothing more complex than a profanity-laden, locker-room style verbal brawl carried out in an online chat room.
"These guys (gH) were like a real gang, like Crips or Bloods," Yarbrough said. This is "very unusual for hackers," said Yarbrough, who has had extensive experience investigating and tracking online crime. Gregory "was really able to apply a lot of the street mentality, traditional physical world gang [experience] to the cyberworld," he said.
Take me back to Part I
Take me to Hackers