Two North Carolina men were arrested on Thursday for allegedly hacking several senior U.S. government officials as part of a group called "Crackas With Attitude," according to documents filed in federal court on Thursday.
Reuters and other media outlets have reported that hackers who broke into CIA Director John Brennan's personal account in 2015 called themselves by that name.
Andrew Otto Boggs, 22, of North Wilkesboro, North Carolina and Justin Gray Liverman, 24, of Morehead City, North Carolina, have been charged with their involvement in the group, though court papers do not name the senior government officials they targeted. The complaint did not list the names of lawyers for the defendants and it was not immediately possible to contact the two men.
Other members of Boggs and Liverman's conspiracy are two 17-year-old males living in the United Kingdom who remain nameless in court documents. British police in February arrested a then 16-year-old boy in relation to the alleged hacks.
According to the court complaint, the group allegedly gained access to personal accounts of senior U.S. government officials and their family members and posted derogatory information obtained through those accounts on the internet.
On October 21, 2015, shortly after the hack into Brennan's account became public, the CIA called the breach "a crime and the Brennan family is the victim."
"The private electronic holdings of the Brennan family were plundered with malicious intent and are now being distributed across the web," the CIA said in a statement.
Boggs and Liverman are being charged with pretending to be employees of the U.S. federal government, intentionally accessing a computer without authorization to gain access to a U.S. government agency, engaging in conduct with the intent to convey misleading information and making harassing telephone calls.
According to the court complaint, the conspiracy began around July 17, 2015 and targeted four senior government officials, a CEO of a company that provides technology to the government and the CEO's spouse.
The group also made a false bomb threat by telephone to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and published the data of more than 80 law enforcement officers in the Miami area, according to the complaint.
In January and February of 2016, the group hacked the Justice Department's Civil Division and distributed information it obtained unlawfully.
(Reporting by Julia Edwards; Editing by Andrew Hay)