FBI Arrests 14 Suspects from Hacker Group ‘Anonymous’

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The FBI arrested 14 people earlier today suspected of being involved with the hacker group Anonymous. They are being charged on “various counts of conspiracy and intentional damage to a protected computer,” and participating in an attack against PayPal late last year.

Dubbed “Operation Payback,” Anonymous targeted PayPal after the online payment service stopped processing donations for Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks. However, during the attack, it seems that hackers did not disguise their IP addresses, giving authorities a way to track them down.

(MORE: As LulzSec Claims CIA Coup, ‘Anonymous’ Hackers Arrested Worldwide)

The suspects came from all over the country, spread over 10 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, D.C., Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio. It’s been reported by Wired that officials executed more than 35 search warrants.

If convicted, the suspects’ alleged activities are punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If they are also charged with conspiracy, that charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The FBI has already released a list of suspects’ names and ages, with the majority of the hackers being under the age of 30.

(MORE: Hacker Arrest in U.K. Turns Up ‘Significant Amount of Material’)

Two other people have also been arrested in connection to the crimes. One is suspected to have cooperated with LulzSec after he lifted information from AT&T that was subsequently distributed through the hacker group’s communications channels. Another man supposedly hacked InfraGard’s website, which is affiliated with the FBI, and then boasted about it on Twitter.

There have been arrests overseas, as well. One person has been arrested in the United Kingdom and four people have been arrested in the Netherlands, all on the suspicion of their relationship to the hacker groups. Forty-five other arrests have also been made in Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and Turkey.

MORE: Anonymous Incurs Google+ Ban, Retaliates by Launching Own Social Network

[via New York Times]

Erica Ho is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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