PayPal Hack in December Leads to Arrests of 14, Including Flagstaff Resident Ethan Miles

A Flagstaff man was among 14 people arrested today by the FBI as part of an investigation into last December's hack of PayPal.

Ethan Miles, 33, is suspected of helping to carry out a "denial-of-service" attack on PayPal in early December, says the U.S. Justice Department.

The feds are accusing Miles of being part of a group called Anonymous, or AnonOps, which an indictment refers to as an "online collective" engaged in "hacktivism" for political or social purposes. He and the others, says the indictment, used a piece of software known as a "Low Orbit Ion Cannon" to send large packets of data to PayPal in attempt to shut down the money-changer's Web site.

The goal was spelled out in the group's name for the plan, "Operation Avenge Assange," after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

When the document-dumping scandal involving WikiLeaks broke last year, PayPal announced it would no longer accept donations for WikiLeaks. That was reportedly what prompted Anonymous to attack PayPal and other targets.

Whether the attack was considered effective by Anonymous isn't known. Media reports from early December state that PayPal's site may have been down for a short time, though a PayPal representative told the Huffington Post that the site had just been temporarily slowed. The indictment accuses Miles of causing at least $5,000 in damage.

Miles' Facebook account states that he studied at Northern Arizona University, and a check of court records reveals he's sort of a rebel with a cause, racking up a few convictions over the years for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, criminal damage and other violations.

Two other suspected cyber criminals were arrested today, according the Justice Department's release --- one on suspicion of hacking an FBI-related program called Tampa InfraGard, and another suspected of publishing protected AT&T documents online.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.

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