FBI makes 14 arrests in Anonymous raids over PayPal attacks

The FBI made 14 arrests nationwide after raiding a series of homes across the U.S. in connection a sweep designed to dent the Anonymous hacking group.

Updated throughout: The Federal Bureau of Investigation has made 14 arrests nationwide after raiding a series of homes across the U.S. in connection a sweep designed to dent the Anonymous hacking group. Two others were arrested on separate charges.

According to CBS News, the FBI sweep was a major operation in New York, California, New Jersey and Florida.

Agents seized computers and associated gear. It appears that these alleged hackers have carried out denial of service attacks on companies.

What's unclear is whether the adults arrested have anything to do with leading Anonymous, a distributed group. In a statement, the Department of Justice said an attack on PayPal is what was the trigger for the raids. The DOJ also said that there were arrests internationally. Here's a key excerpt from a statement:

The 14 individuals were arrested in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio on charges contained in an indictment unsealed today in the Northern District of California in San Jose. In addition, two individuals were arrested on similar charges in two separate complaints filed in the Middle District of Florida and the District of New Jersey. Also today, FBI agents executed more than 35 search warrants throughout the United States as part of an ongoing investigation into coordinated cyber attacks against major companies and organizations. Finally, the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police Service arrested one person and the Dutch National Police Agency arrested four individuals today for alleged related cyber crimes.

According to the San Jose indictment, in late November 2010, WikiLeaks released a large amount of classified U.S. State Department cables on its website. Citing violations of the PayPal terms of service, and in response to WikiLeaks’ release of the classified cables, PayPal suspended WikiLeaks’ accounts so that WikiLeaks could no longer receive donations via PayPal. WikiLeaks’ website declared that PayPal’s action “tried to economically strangle WikiLeaks.”

As noted previously, Anonymous members are widely distributed. The challenge in rounding up the network is casting a wide enough net to garner the intelligence needed to go after larger fish.

Here are the folks arrested on Tuesday:

Christopher Wayne Cooper, 23, aka “Anthrophobic;” Joshua John Covelli, 26, aka “Absolem” and “Toxic;” Keith Wilson Downey, 26; Mercedes Renee Haefer, 20, aka “No” and “MMMM;” Donald Husband, 29, aka “Ananon;” Vincent Charles Kershaw, 27, aka “Trivette,” “Triv” and “Reaper;” Ethan Miles, 33; James C. Murphy, 36; Drew Alan Phillips, 26, aka “Drew010;” Jeffrey Puglisi, 28, aka “Jeffer,” “Jefferp” and “Ji;” Daniel Sullivan, 22; Tracy Ann Valenzuela, 42; and Christopher Quang Vo, 22. One individual’s name has been withheld by the court.

Separately, Scott Matthew Arciszewski, 21, was arrested in Florida and charged for accessing the InfraGard website and network. Lance Moore, 21, of Las Cruces, N.M., was charged in New Jersey for allegedly stealing data from AT&T's network.