A man whose volunteer work with the group that helps ensnare sexual predators on the TV show “To Catch a Predator” will spend the next two years behind bars for launching targeted online attacks against the media outlets who spread his humiliating story.
On April 15, a New Jersey judge sentenced Bruce Raisley, 48, to 24 months in prison for launching a computer virus that infected 100,000 computers around the world and directed the systems to attack media outlets, including Rolling Stone and Radar, which covered Raisley’s sordid story, in which his former colleague created a fake adult woman for which Raisley ultimately left his wife.
The story, however, goes beyond a simple online attack; it’s rooted in a fractured friendship and a surprising act of revenge.
A broken bond
According to the Department of Justice press release, Raisley, who worked as a computer programmer, volunteered for Perverted Justice, an organization that works with the Dateline NBC show “To Catch a Predator” to identity and catch pedophiles by posing as underage girls and boys interested in sexual encounters.
Raisley, however, had an argument with Xavier Von Erck, the founder of Perverted Justice over the legality of its practices. Raisley then became an outspoken critic of the group.
What happened next would vault Raisley into the public spotlight — but not in the way he’d hoped.
Revenge is named Holly
In 2005, Von Erck used the basic tenets of Perverted Justice — with which Raisley was certainly familiar — to ensnare his friend-turned-critic.
Posing as an adult woman named “Holly,” Von Erck initiated an online relationship with Raisley. The virtual seduction worked, and Raisley left his wife for what he thought would be his new life with Holly.
Perverted Justice snapped a picture of Raisley at the Little Rock airport, holding flowers for his new (nonexistent) lover. That picture was then posted online by a number of media outlets.
The story hits the street, Raisley hits the slammer
Soon after Raisley was duped by Perverted Justice, Radar Magazine published an account of the story called “Strange Bedfellows” in July 2007, Rolling Stone magazine wrote “To Catch a Predator: The New American Witch Hunt for Dangerous Pedophiles.”
Both stories, which told of how Raisley was tricked — and subsequently lost his wife and his job — were then posted on a number of websites, including Nettica and Corrupted Justice, spreading his humiliating story across the Internet, the security firm Sophos reported.
In an attempt to erase the digital trail of his tale, Raisley created a botnet to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against the media outlets who had published his scandalous story. For his cybercrime, Raisley will now spend the next two years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.