A member of the short-lived Crackas With Attitude hacking troupe has received five years in prison, despite the fact that he hadn't actually hacked any accounts himself and had accepted a plea deal.
Justin Liverman was sentenced to 60 months inside by Judge Gerald Bruce Lee in the Federal Court of the Eastern District of Virginia on Friday. He had earlier pled guilty to conspiracy to hack US government computer systems and the court awarded him the maximum sentence it could, along with a $145,000 fine.
"These are no pranks," said Judge Lee at sentencing, the Washington Post reports. "This computer hacking, Crackas With Attitude, caused chaos. Your intent was clear, and that was to wreak havoc."
The CWA team first rose to prominence in October 2015 when the group claimed to have hacked the personal AOL account of then-CIA boss John Brennan and forwarded some of the contents to WikiLeaks.
The next month other high-profile scalps followed, including the then-US National Intelligence Director James Clapper, FBI Deputy Director Mark Giuliano and President Obama's senior advisor and director of the Office of Science and Technology, John Holdren.
Liverman wasn't one of the team members who managed to social-engineer access to these accounts – that was done by a teenage British hacker going under the unimaginative handle Cracka. But Liverman hired a phone spamming service to harass Deputy Director Giuliano.
Once an hour for about a month, Giuliano would get threatening or explicit phone messages from the service. Liverman also texted him directly with messages about his "slut wife" and claiming he was planning to "keep a close eye on your family, especially your son!"
"Liverman leveraged Cracka's superior social engineering skills to his own ends – namely, to cause disruption/fear through harassment and to continue to perpetrate his online fraud of being an administrator of a hacking group and a successful hacker himself," said Special Assistant US Attorney Joseph Longobardo.
In January last year, Liverman also claimed to have hacked NASA's servers and released a dossier of materials on his Twitter account. It turned out the cache was of publicly available documents after NASA spent plenty of time and $41,300 researching the issue.
As you'd imagine, law enforcement was royally pissed off about the intrusions and set to work. A month after Liverman's NASA dump, the first member of the team, Andrew Otto Boggs (aka Incursio), was arrested along with Liverman after investigators found he was using his home IP address to access Twitter, and British police swooped down on Cracka shortly afterwards.
Boggs was sentenced to two years in prison in July – Liverman would, no doubt, have been looking at a similar sentence. He has already done three months in the Big House after overdosing on cocaine while out on supervised release.
In court Liverman said that he had taken part in the hacking team to expose the insecurity of senior government officials' email accounts. He added that he was also fighting back against government overreach.
"I thought what I was doing was right in terms of political justice," he said in court Friday. "But two years later, I realize I was completely wrong." ®