A hacker with ties to the NBC show “To Catch a Predator” was sentenced to 24 months in prison this week for launching a virus that infected 100,000 computers.
Bruce Raisley, 48, will spend two years in prison, in addition to three years of supervised release and a $90,386.34 fine, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced Friday.
Raisley used to work with Perverted Justice, an organization that identifies online pedophiles. Its workers pose as underage kids and set up real-life meetings with the pedophiles who target them, at which point they are apprehended by police. Perverted Justice’s services were used by NBC’s “To Catch a Predator,” which taped and aired these real-life meetings and arrests.
Raisley, however, had a falling out with the group and its founder, Xavier Von Erck, after which Raisley became an outspoken critic of Perverted Justice and Von Erck. In retaliation, Von Erck went online, posed as a woman named “Holly,” and initiated an Internet relationship with Raisley. Von Erck eventually convinced Raisley to leave his wife for “Holly,” and had a Perverted Justice volunteer photograph him waiting for “Holly” at the airport.
In 2006 and 2007, Radar Magazine and Rolling Stone published articles about Perverted Justice and “To Catch a Predator,” both of which mentioned Raisley and the “Holly” incident. Other sites picked up the stories and posted them on their Web sites, prompting Raisley to devise a plan that would wipe them from the Web.
Raisley developed a virus that infected 100,000 computers globally. This created a botnet, which Raisley used to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against any Web sites that had posted the articles. The DDoS attacks essentially overwhelmed the Web sites in question, and visitors to the sites were met with errors. All told, the sites for Rolling Stone, Radar, Nettica, Corrupted Justice, and the Rick Ross Institute of New Jersey sustained damages in excess of $100,000 in lost revenue and IT work, Fishman’s office said.
Raisley was charged with launching a malicious computer program and was convicted in September 2010.