A federal criminal Complaint unsealed on March 8, 2010, paints a frightening story. On February 22, 2010, more than a dozen employees,executives, and one board member of a New York-based life insurance company (the "Company") received an email that read, in part, "I HIGHLY suggest you visit this websiteand contact me afterwards." The message was signed signed "Anthony Digati." ("Digati")
The email provided a website address that connected a viewer to a website created by Digati (the"Website"). The Website includes, among other things, the following text
a. These things, unless you honor the below claim, WILL HAPPEN on March 8, 2010.
b. As you have denied my claim I can only respond in this way. You no longer have a choice in the matter, unless of course you want me to continue with this outlined plan. I have nothing to lose, you have everything to lose.
c. My demand is now for $198,303.88. This amount is NOT negotiable, you had your chance to make me an offer, now I call the shots.
d. I have 6 MILLION emails going out to couples with children age 25-40, this email campaign is ordered and paid for. 2 million go out on the 8th and every two days 2 million more for three weeks rotating the list. Of course it is spam, I hired a spam service, I could care less, The damge [sic] will be done.
e. I am a huge social networker, and I am highly experienced. 200,000 people will be directly contacted by me through social networks, slamming your integrity and directing them to this website within days.
f. I think you get the idea, I am going to drag your company name and reputation, through the muddiest waters imaginable. This will cost you millions in lost revenues, trust and credibility not to mention the advertising you will be buying to counter mine. Sad thing is it's almost free for me!
g. The process is in motion and will be released on March 8th, 2010. If you delay and the site goes live, The price will then be $3,000,000.00.
According to press reports, Digati had invested about $50,000 into a variable life insurance policy sold by New York Life. Apparently, unhappy about not getting a nearly quadruple return on his investment, he opted for extortion.
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara and Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's New York Field Division ("FBI"), George Venizelos announced that 52-year-old Digati was arrested at his home in Chino, California on March 6, 2010, on charges of attempting to extort approximately $200,000 from the Company by threatening to make false public statements and transmit computer spam in an effort to damage the reputation of the company and cost it millions of dollars in revenue. Digati was charged with with one count of extortion through interstate communications (which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross pecuniary loss or gain derived from the offense).
Please note that the charge in the criminal Complaint is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.