FBI Raids Arlington House in Hacking Case

Agents investigating Anonymous, group that claimed it attacked PayPal, Mastercard and Visa

FBI agents investigating the shadowy computer hacker group "Anonymous" raided a house on a quiet Arlington cul-de-sac last week, according to just-released federal court documents.

The computer in the house was used in an attack in December against the electronic billing website PayPal, according to a search warrant.

Investigators traced an Internet Protocol address used in the attack to the house in the 3400 block of Ainsworth Court, the warrant said.

An IP address is a unique numeric address assigned to a computer connected to the Internet.

The search warrant identifies the family living there as Peter and Valori Reid and their 19-year-old son Ethan. Nobody answered the door at the home on Monday.

Nobody was arrested.

Agents arrived at the house at about 6 a.m., and a neighbor said they stayed for three hours. They seized two laptops, two desktop computers, an external hard drive, several thumb drives, an iPod Touch and at least one cellphone, the warrant said.

Other FBI raids took place in other states, but the Arlington search was not previously disclosed.

An indictment in San Jose, Calif., accused 14 people around the country of conspiring to "intentionally damage a protected computer."

FBI Special Agent Mark White in Dallas declined to comment on the investigation.

Anonymous claimed it attacked PayPal's website, along of those of MasterCard and Visa, in retaliation for cutting off service to WikiLeaks, a website that published thousands of secret U.S. State Department documents.

"Essentially these people are called 'hactivists,'" said former federal prosecutor Matthew Yarbrough, who started the first cybercrimes task force in Dallas and now heads a corporate computer security law firm.

"Most people who are doing this are doing it for power -- or [what] they claim to be activism," he said. "But they're really doing it so they can brag about it."

There's no shortage of hacking cases in North Texas.

Two years ago, a security guard posted a YouTube video of himself breaking into the computer system at the Dallas medical clinic where he worked. He altered the software so he could remotely turn off the building's air conditioning.

The former guard, Jesse McGraw, who went by the name "GhostExodus," is now in federal prison and set to be released in 2017.

Other hackers in North Texas have fooled 911 dispatchers into sending police SWAT teams to bogus calls.

Experts predict the investigation into Anonymous will put the group out of business but others will likely take its place.

"There will be something else that morphs from Anonymous or people who find out that for a day they can be part of a gang of potential Internet thugs," Yarbrough said.

More: Read the search warrant

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