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Hacking incident turns criminal

Sheriffs prepare complaint against hacker

Posted: January 13, 2009 9:15 p.m.
Updated: January 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station Deputies are preparing a criminal complaint against the person who hacked into Sean Spalla's YouTube account and posted gory, pornographic pictures and threats, a sheriff's deputy said.

The complaint comes eight days after YouTube helped Spalla shut down the vandalized page.

Deputies plan to file an identity-theft complaint with the District Attorney's office by Friday, said Valencia High School Resources Deputy Pete Romo.

The D.A. determines whether to file criminal charges, he said.

"I was shocked to see what was posted because it was very graphic," Romo said.

The federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act prohibits an individual from intentionally accessing an online account without authorization.

Romo declined to comment on whether a suspect has been identified or whether misdemeanor or felony charges will be filed.

Hackers changed Spalla's password Dec. 12 and within a week they posted the offensive content.

The altered password kept Spalla from accessing the account and deleting the page, he said.

The pictures were gone Jan. 5, but hackers created a link that took visitors to another page with the same bloody and pornographic pictures, said Karee Spalla, Sean Spalla's mother.

"This is traumatizing for Sean. He just wants to be a normal kid," said Karee Spalla.

The three-week battle with YouTube to fix the page left Sean Spalla, a Valencia high special-education student, short on sleep and anxious about returning to school, Karee Spalla said.

"He didn't want to go on. He told me once that he was thinking about killing himself, but I told him no. Sean would take my heart with him if he did that," Karee Spalla said.

YouTube told the Spallas to create a username, password and flag the site.

The flagging feature alerts YouTube technicians to problems, said Scott Rubin, Google spokesman. Google owns YouTube.

Karee Spalla balked at creating a new user name and password claiming password protection created the original problem.

Jeff Lasater - founder of Project 51 and father of Jeremiah Lasater, the boy who killed himself in a Vasquez High School bathroom Oct. 20 - contacted Karee Spalla to offer support.

Lasater founded Project 51 to help schools, parents and children battle bullies.

"We are going to fight this for as long as needed," he said.

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