The FBI was instrumental in arresting two dozen hackers this week that allegedly bought and sold credit card numbers over the Web. If you ask Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White, though, he had something to do with it too.
Of the 24 individuals apprehended by the Federal Bureau of Investigation this week as part of a two-year undercover sting, at least one wasn’t limiting himself to only computer crimes linked to credit fraud. Mir Islam, 18, was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly selling stolen credit card info on an FBI-run website, according to the United States attorney for the Southern District. Prosecutors say that Islam kept a database of 50,000 credit card accounts and traded the info over the FBI’s own site, Carder Profit.
Islam’s biggest opponent wasn’t necessarily federal agents, though. UFC President Dana White has been after Islam and other hackers since at least January and now he says that he thinks he helped bring down a collective of two dozen computer hackers.
The feud between hacktivists and White began earlier this year after the president of the US-based Mixed Martial Arts organization announced his support for the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, a since-defeated congressional proposal that stood to strike down Internet freedoms across the board. As the public caught on to what the passing of SOPA would do to the Web, online advocates began campaigns to crush the legislation before it could clear Congress. Naturally, White’s outspoken support of the bill brought him some unwanted attention from hacktivists, particularly those with the underground collective UGNazi.
Along with hackers aligned to the loose-knight Anonymous organization, the UGNazi clan — and particularly Islam’s alias, JoshTheGod — taunted White over his SOPA support, eventually targeted UFC.com with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. As one might expect from the man behind a brutal sport such as MMA, White wasn’t quick to turn quiet.
“I’m in the fight biz not the website biz!! Might be a big deal to other companies not mine,” White responded to the cyberattacks at the time over Twitter. Other tweets he sent include statements such as, “Lol, I’m not fucking ebay. My website being down doesn’t mean shit” and “I could give a flying rats ass about UFC. Com.”
When White taunted hackers by writing, “The Internet is a place where cowards live,” the response was almost instantaneous: soon after his Social Security number and other personal info was published online.
Today, White paints a different picture. Speaking to Inc. magazine, the UFC president suggests that this week’s arrests stemmed from his own snitching to the FBI.
“I was in Chicago for a fight when I found out these Anonymous guys had started crashing our site. During an interview, I looked right into the camera and dared them to do it again. I said, ‘Who do you think I am, eBay? I’m in the fight business. I could give a shit if you knock my website down. Do it again! Go ahead. I dare you!’” White tells Inc.
“You’re gonna send some pizzas to my house and put my Social Security number out? Who gives a shit? If people really wanted to get your Social Security number, I’m sure they could find it. I’m supposed to bow down to you guys now? I’m going to come after you harder. If you want to fight me, you better pack a f—ing lunch, man. Because we’re gonna go until somebody wins and somebody loses.”
White says “It was a Twitter war for days,” but the tides turned after he approached the feds to make things more fun.
“You get these guys engaged, you get ’em going, and that’s when you get the FBI involved,” he says. “Because there’s so much piracy of UFC merchandise, the FBI was already monitoring everything that was happening. But after Anonymous hacked our site, we also got U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Department of Homeland Security, involved. And it helps when they know when and where the hackers are going to attack. So I put my chin out there, and we knew they were gonna punch it. Two weeks after they attacked me, a lot of them started getting busted. I think we contributed to that.”
Islam is being accused of helping operate and administering deals on the FBI-run credit card site and other forums. Last week, the UGNazi clan took credit for an hours-long crash of Twitter.com, a claim the social networking site has since rejected.