Man arrested for cyber attacks in 2018 congressional race

Trisha Gambel casts her primary vote at Bouquet Canyon Church in Saugus on Nov. 8, 2016. KATHARINE LOTZE/SIgnal. 06072016
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A man who was contracted to work on former Rep. Katie Hill’s 2018 campaign for the 25th District Congressional Primary Election has been arrested by FBI agents on suspicion of attacking campaign websites.

Arthur Jan Dam, 32, of Santa Monica, was taken into custody Friday morning following a criminal complaint being filed Wednesday charging him with one count of intentionally damaging or attempting to damage a protected computer.

FBI officials reported that agents did not find a link between the attacks and Hill’s campaign. Bryan Caforio, Hill’s former opponent in the 2018 primary race, confirmed via phone call on Friday that he was the unnamed victim in the criminal complaint.

“Dam was married to a woman who was employed by another candidate – and the eventual winner (Katie Hill) — in the congressional race,” according to the complaint. “The FBI has not uncovered any evidence that the winning candidate or Dam’s wife orchestrated or were involved in the series of cyberattacks.”

“Dam allegedly staged four cyberattacks in April and May of 2018 that took down (Caforio’s) website for a total of 21 hours,” reads a release about the arrest from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

“(Caforio) reported suffering losses, including website downtime, a reduction in campaign donations, and time spent by campaign staff and others conducting critical incident response,” said the criminal complaint.

On Friday, Caforio said one of the attacks came just days before the election, and caused unquantifiable damage to his campaign.

“In the heat of the campaign, in those final weeks, when you’re trying to get out the vote and you’re trying to reach voters and spread your message … our ability to raise campaign funds so that we could get the message out was shut off,” said Caforio. “And our staff was redirected from getting that message out and speaking with voters to trying and get the website up and running.”

“It’s just a real frustrating thing,” he added.

Caforio said it was his understanding that they were the only ones to get attacked.

The Signal has acquired documents linking Dam to the Katie Hill for Congress campaign, with the campaign paying him $500 for graphic design and website security consultation.

If convicted as charged, Dam could serve a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to specifically name the victim listed in the complaint.

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