Yesterday, a federal grand jury in New York issued an indictment (pdf) against Anthony Digati based on his threats to use spam email and the www.newyorklifeproducts.com domain to drag New York Life Insurance Company "through the muddiest waters imaginable." Both the U.S. Attorney's Office press release (.pdf) and the FBI press release announced the indictment.
Digati was arrested on March 8, 2010 for violations of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 875(d), which prohibits extortionate communications "containing any threat to injure the property or reputation of the addressee."
The resident of Chino, California, was a former agent and manager at New York Life, but the relationship apparently soured after Digati purchased a variable universal life insurance policy. When Digati was disappointed by the financial returns on his investment, he began to demand a refund a refund of the $49,576 in premiums he had paid. These demands apparently escalated to around $200,000 and then $3 million.
When his demands were denied, Digati allegedly registered the www.newyorklifeproducts.com domain and threatened to use the site, along with his presence on social networking sites and spam email sent to millions of potential customers to smear New York Life. The indictment provides some colorful excerpts from Digati's threats, including:
At this point, you're probably asking yourselves why should I even listen to this crazy fool, what can he do and why should I pay him. NUISANCE VALUE is why, I am going to cause you millions of dollars in lost revenue, good faith and general trust in your company.
I have 6 MILLION emails going out to couples with children age 25-40, this email campaign is ordered and paid for. 2 million go out on the 8th and every two days 2 million more for three weeks rotating the list. Of course it is spam, I hired a spam service, I could care less, The damge [sic] will be done.
I am huge social networker, and I am highly experienced. 200,000 people will be directly contacted by me through social networks, slamming your integrity and directing them to this website within days.
New York Life turned Digati's emails over to the FBI, who investigated and ultimately arrested him in California. Digati faces a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison and $250,000 fine.