Lee Graham Walker, Axel
Gembe CHARGED in Operation Cyberslam
October 6, 2008
British man and a German man were indicted by a federal grand jury on
charges of conspiring to intentionally cause damage to the computers of
two U.S.-based retail satellite companies by launching large-scale
distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks that shut down the
The indictment returned this afternoon charges Lee Graham Walker, 24, of
Bleys Bolton, England, and Axel Gembe, 25, of Germany. They are both
accused of one count of conspiracy and one count of intentionally
damaging a computer system, charges that could bring each of them a
prison sentence of up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
The FBI's Operation
Cyberslam, began in 2003 following a series of distributed
denial-of-service, or DDoS, attacks on a large Los Angeles vendor of
digital recorders. The attacks took business offline, along with other
private and government bodies, for two weeks, resulting in losses
ranging from $200,000 to more than $1 million, according to the FBI.
The indictment alleges a conspiracy involving at least four individuals:
Walker; Gembe; Jay Echouafni, the former owner of Orbit Communications
Corporation; and Paul Ashley, an Echouafni business associate and the
former owner of Creative Internet Techniques. Echouafni and Ashley were
charged in 2004 for their role in the conspiracy.
Ashley pleaded guilty after his case was transferred to Ohio, and he has
already served a two-year prison sentence.
The case against Echouafni and Ashley was the first successful
investigation of a large-scale DDOS attack that was waged for a
commercial purpose in the United States. The now-four defendants charged
in the investigation allegedly were involved in launching a series of
relentless DDOS attacks against competitors of Echouafniís company. The
attacks were waged against the computers of the Miami Beach-based Rapid
Satellite and the Los Angeles-based Weaknees by attacking their public
websites, where the companies did all of their business.
A DDOS attack is launched when a multitude of compromised computers
attack a single target, causing a sustained denial of service for users
of the targeted system. This type of attack, once the domain of
teenagers vying for online reputation and control of chat channels, has
been used more recently by cyber extortionists and unscrupulous business
owners attempting to sabotage competitors.
October 2003, Weaknees reported a series of DDOS attacks that
effectively halted its business for nearly two weeks and caused more
than $200,000 in losses. Rapid Satellite was similarly attacked and
suffered significant losses.
Court documents allege that Echouafni and Ashley hired Walker to launch
the DDOS attacks against Orbitís competitors in California and Florida.
The indictment alleges that Echoufani directed Ashley to prevent the
public from accessing the Rapid Satellite and Weaknees websites and
Ashley, in turn, asked Walker and others to launch DDOS attacks against
the victim companies. According to the indictment, Walker used a network
of computers that he developed with Gembe to launch the attacks. Gembe
is the developer of the well known Agobot computer worm, a version of
which allegedly was used in the DDOS attacks.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.