U.S. authorities have arrested two North Carolina men accused of hacking into the private email accounts of high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials.
Andrew Otto Boggs, a.k.a. “INCURSIO,” 22, of North Wilkesboro, N.C., and Justin Gray Liverman, a.k.a. “D3F4ULT,” 24, of Morehead City, N.C., were arrested Thursday morning and will be extradited next week to Alexandria, where federal prosecutors for the Eastern District of Virginia have spent months building a case against a group that calls itself Crackas With Attitude.
Along with Boggs and Liverman, authorities say, the group included three teenage boys being investigated in the United Kingdom.
The hacking collective has claimed to have gained access to the private email accounts of CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. The group regularly bragged about its escapades to reporters, explaining its methods and providing evidence of its activities.
According to U.S. officials familiar with the investigation, the group also hacked into the accounts of Mark Giuliano, a former FBI deputy director; Amy Hess, the FBI executive assistant director for science and technology; Gregory Mecher, who is married to White House communications director Jen Psaki; and Harold Rosenbaum, chief executive of CIA contractor Centra Technology.
In an affidavit, FBI agent B.J. Kang wrote that “Cracka,” one of the British teens, took the lead in hacking the accounts, while Boggs and Liverman encouraged him and used the exposed information to harass the targets.
According to Kang and interviews the hackers have given to reporters, the group relied not on computer skills but “social engineering” to gain access to social media, phone and email accounts. In the affidavit, Kang did not name the people who were victims, but a U.S. official familiar with the investigation verified the identities of those who were hacked.
Kang wrote that Cracka gained access to Brennan’s account by posing as a Verizon technician and tricking the company’s tech-support unit into revealing the CIA director’s account number, password and other details. He then used that information to lock Brennan out of his AOL account. Later, he released the form Brennan filled out to obtain his top-secret security clearance, a 47-page document full of personal details, according to the affidavit.
Cracka then gained access to Giuliano’s Comcast account information and began forwarding the official’s cellphone calls to a number associated with the Free Palestine Movement, according to the affidavit and interviews with the alleged hacker.
Liverman allegedly texted threats to Giuliano, calling him a “f---ing boomer” and paid for a campaign of harassing phone calls to Giuliano’s cellphone.
When Cracka got access through Giuliano’s accounts to a database of sensitive law enforcement information, Liverman allegedly requested information on Miami police. Authorities say a file containing information on 80 Miami-area officers was found on his computer. Those names and numbers were released online.
Boggs allegedly used the information to post online the prison booking report for Chicago hacker Jeremy Hammond. The work emails and phone numbers for thousands of law enforcement personnel across the country were also posted online.
According to the affidavit, Cracka appears to have gotten into the law enforcement database simply by calling an FBI help desk and asking for Giuliano’s password to be reset. The group is accused of using the same tactics to access an internal website for staffers at the Civil Division of the Department of Justice and post employee information online. In that instance, a member of the group allegedly used the credentials of a Justice Department contractor.
Both the FBI and Justice Department information was found on Liverman’s computer, according to authorities.
Liverman purportedly asked Cracka to target Mecher because Psaki had spoken critically of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Again, Cracka allegedly obtained access to Mecher’s account by pretending to be him and a Verizon employee in calls to Verizon. Liverman allegedly called Mecher, taunted him on Twitter by pretending to be Snowden and attempted to gain access to Mecher’s account himself.
Hess was targeted because Liverman believed she probably knew government secrets, according to Kang. Cracka allegedly obtained access to her Comcast account and began altering her settings, changing her passwords and playing movies on her television. He and Liverman allegedly released her call logs online.
Rosenbaum’s company became a target because of its government work, according to Kang’s affidavit. Cracka allegedly hacked into Rosenbaum’s and his wife’s Facebook accounts, canceling their dinner reservations and posting anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian messages. They also defaced his LinkedIn page, according to authorities.
Cracka and Liverman were also behind a fake bomb threat called in to the Palm Beach police in January, according to Kang.
Last year, before his arrest, Cracka told the New York Post that he was motivated by “opposition to U.S. foreign policy and support to Palestine.”
One member told CNN that he smoked marijuana “all day every day” and was “probably” high when gaining access to high-level accounts.