California Man Indicted in Manhattan Federal Court for Cyber-Extortion of New York Life Insurance Company
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 22, 2010|
PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the indictment late yesterday of ANTHONY DIGATI on charges of attempting to extort approximately $200,000 or more from New York Life Insurance Company ("New York Life"). DIGATI allegedly threatened in e-mails and on a website he created to make false public statements and transmit millions of spam e-mails in an effort to damage the reputation of New York Life and cost the company millions of dollars in revenue.
According to the Indictment returned late yesterday by a grand jury and other documents filed in court following DIGATI's arrest on March 6, 2010:
Beginning in January 2010, DIGATI sought the return of his insurance premiums from New York Life after he purchased variable universal life insurance and became dissatisfied with the performance of that insurance. New York Life advised DIGATI that those premiums would not be returned. Thereafter, on February 22, 2010, DIGATI sent an e-mail to more than a dozen employees, executives, and one board member of New York Life, in which he directed the recipients to his website and stated, "I HIGHLY suggest you visit this website and contact me afterwards."
The website included, among other things, the following text:
- These things, unless you honor the below claim, WILL HAPPEN on March 8, 2010.
- 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.
- 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.
- I have 6 MILLION emails going out to couples with children age 25-40, this e-mail 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
On February 24, 2010, DIGATI sent another e-mail to New York Life employees, executives, and one board member, noting that the "[c]lock is ticking" and providing another link to the website.
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DIGATI, 52, currently resides in Chino, California. He is charged with one count of extortion through interstate communications. If convicted on this charge, DIGATI faces 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. The case is assigned to United States District Judge DENNY CHIN. DIGATI is expected to appear in Manhattan federal court at a later date.
The Indictment also seeks the forfeiture of DIGATI's computer and other equipment seized from DIGATI at the time of his arrest on March 6, 2010.
Mr. BHARARA praised the New York Field Office of the FBI and the Riverside Resident Agency of the Los Angeles FBI Field Office.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office's Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant United States Attorney AMANDA KRAMER is in charge of this prosecution.
The charge and allegations contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.