Anonymous is lashing out today at the FBI and especially at PayPal, urging users of the electronic payments site to dump their accounts.
In its latest "official communique" on behalf of itself and Lulz Security, the hactivist group condemned the FBI for its recent arrests of those charged in connection with hacking attacks by Anonymous in December against PayPal and a host of other companies.
Complaining that the Anonymous "suspects" may face a fine of $500,000 and a possible 15 years of jail time, the group criticized the FBI for equating "adding one's voice to a chorus" with "controlling a large botnet of infected computers" and charging both as crimes subject to the same fines and sentences.
But Anonymous saved some special wrath for PayPal, which it called one of the "corrupt and greedy organizations" that were hit by the group's distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Claiming that the online payment service continues to withhold funds from WikiLeaks, the group has launched OpPayPal to drive people away from the service.
Shortly after the new post hit the Web today, Anonymous claimed through its Twitter account that PayPal had lost more than 9,000 accounts in just a couple of hours. The group also claimed that PayPal had taken down its Web page where people can cancel their accounts, though the site seemed to be up and running normally.
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A spokesperson for PayPal told CNET that "we haven't seen any changes to our normal operations (including account opening and closing)."
By about 10 a.m. PT, Anonymous was claiming that 35,000 PayPal accounts had been closed.
WikiLeaks was quick to crow that Anonymous' campaign dealt a "$933M stock crash" this morning for PayPal parent eBay. Shares in eBay did drop about 3 percent at the market open, but have since recovered somewhat.
Last December, PayPal released to WikiLeaks all existing funds in its account up to that time but cut off the ability of the whistleblowing site to receive future funds from supporters via its PayPal account.
By caving into the law enforcement establishment in freezing the WikiLeaks account, PayPal doesn't deserve the business or respect of its customers, says Anonymous.
Lashing out at the FBI and PayPal, Anonymous issued a warning:
Quite simply, we, the people, are disgusted with these injustices. We will not sit down and let ourselves be trampled upon by any corporation or government. We are not scared of you, and that is something for you to be scared of. We are not the terrorists here: you are.
The FBI, meanwhile, may not be done with Anonymous-related arrests. Wired's Threat Level blog, citing an affadavit made public yesterday, says the agency may be on the trail of additional suspects, "working from a list, provided by PayPal, of the 1,000 Internet IP addresses responsible for the most protest traffic" during the December attacks.
And in the U.K., police this morning said that they've arrested a 19-year-old nicknamed "Topiary" whom they believe to be a key member of LulzSec.
Updated 10 a.m. PT with comment from PayPal, and again shortly thereafter with further claims by Anonymous on alleged PayPal account closures and with word of a LulzSec arrest in the U.K.