Admin of DDoS-For-Hire Service “DownThem” Gets 2 Years Prison Sentence

Admin of DDoS-For-Hire Service “DownThem” Gets 2 Years Prison Sentence

Matthew Gatrel was arrested after an extensive crackdown by the FBI and other agencies against 15 booter service domains in 2018.

A 33-year-old St. Charles, Illinois resident, identified as Matthew Gatrel, is sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted last year for facilitating the DDoS-for-hire service “DownThem.”

According to the US Department of Justice, Gatrel helped customers launch powerful DDoS attacks against thousands of websites and innocent users.

The accused was found guilty of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) for operating two DDoS-for-hire services through downthemorg and ampnodecom. Through these websites, the accused facilitated people to launch over 200,000 attacks in exchange for money.

Authorities seize 15 popular DDoS-for-hire websites
DownThem Site seized

Case Details

Initially, Gatrel admitted to operating these “booter” services and even provided “incriminating evidence” to the authorities. However, he opted to take the case to trial and used public defenders to defend the case.

Before the trial started, his business partner and co-accused, Juan Severon Martinez had already pleaded guilty, the DoJ confirmed in a press release. Prosecutors alleged that the accused sold subscriptions through Downthem and AmpNode helped provide bulletproof server hosting service to customers, focusing more on spoofing servers pre-configured with DDoS attack scripts.

Authorities seize 15 popular DDoS-for-hire websites
Dashboard of DownThem

Furthermore, the servers contained lists of vulnerable attack amplifiers used to launch repeated cyberattacks against targets. Prosecutors also claimed that Martinez and Gatrel continuously scanned the web for misconfigured devices and sold lists of their internet addresses to other Booter service providers.

The trial continued for nine days in the Central District of California. Eventually, the court found Gatrel guilty of all three counts, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit unauthorized impairment of a protected computer, and unauthorized impairment of a protected computer.

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Previous Coverage

In 2018, the FBI, Dutch Police, National Crime Agency of UK, tech giant Google, cybersecurity firm Flashpoint, and Cloudflare joined hands to launch an operation to take down fifteen popular DDoS-for-hire websites.

These sites were used to launch DDoS attacks against private individuals and businesses such as email service providers, gaming services, and hosting sites.

Resultantly, all the websites were seized and shut down. Criminal charges were filed against three facilitators of these services. One of the defendants operated two of the seized websites, AmpNode and Downthem.

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