FBI: Consultant for Katie Hill Likely Culprit in 2018 Cyber Attack on Her Primary Opponent

The FBI on Friday filed a criminal complaint in California that sheds new light on a spree of mysterious cyberattacks that targeted Bryan Caforio, a Democratic candidate for Congress who ran for office in one of the most competitive primary elections of the 2018 midterms.

The FBI’s complaint says there is probable cause to believe that Arthur Dam carried out the four separate cyberattacks on Caforio’s website that took down the site at crucial moments in the closely contested primary. Dam was a consultant for Katie Hill, who beat Caforio in the primary and went on to win the seat in 2018. (Hill resigned in October.)

The attacks were first reported by Rolling Stone in September 2018.

The FBI Friday arrested Dam, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The complaint, which accuses Dam of a federal crime, does not explicitly name Caforio, but Caforio confirmed to Rolling Stone that the victim named in the complaint is him and his campaign.

The series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks crippled Caforio’s website for a combined 21 hours, according to the FBI complaint. One of the attacks happened right before a critical primary election debate; another took place just a week before the primary election vote. Caforio lost the primary to Hill by a few thousand votes. (Hill resigned late last year amid a controversy over leaked personal photos and a possible relationship with an office staff member.)

The complaint names Dam as the person who allegedly carried out the cyberattacks on the Caforio campaign. Federal campaign records show that Hill’s campaign paid someone named Arthur Dam $500 for “graphic design and website security consultation.”

Dam did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FBI’s Los Angeles field office led the investigation into the attacks. According to the FBI’s complaint, the attacks “originated from Amazon Web Services and in particular were tied to a single AWS account, which was controlled by DAM.”

The complaint goes on to say, “DAM was found to be connected to the cyberattacks through subscriber information, IP addresses, geolocation history, and open sources, including through his employer and his wife, K.O., who worked for one of the victim’s opponents.” The complaint does not provide Dam’s wife’s full name.

“I’m absolutely shocked and saddened to learn today that Katie Hill’s campaign associates hacked my campaign in order to help her advance through the primary,” Caforio says about the FBI report. “This should serve as a somber reminder that Russia is not the only threat to our democracy. There are bad actors on all sides who will do anything for their own personal gain, and we need to come together as Americans to defend our country and hold everyone responsible accountable.”

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