A Chino, California, man was indicted in federal court after he allegedly sent threatening emails and used a Web site as a means to damage the reputation of insurer New York Life, costing the firm millions. The 52-year-old suspect is charged with one count of extortion through interstate communications, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. If convicted, the suspect could face up to two years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of loss his crime committed. Federal authorities claim that in a series of emails and through a Web site, the suspect threatened to make false public statements and transmit millions of spam emails in an effort to hurt New York Life. In January, he attempted to have his insurance premiums returned after he purchased a variable universal life policy and was dissatisfied with the performance of the product. In February, he sent an e-mail to more than a dozen New York Life employees, executives and one of the insurers’ board of directors directing them to his Web site and stating “I HIGHLY suggest you visit [the site] and contact me afterwards.” The site featured text spelling out the suspect’s demands and his threats to send six million spam emails and use his knowledge of social media to “slam” the insurers integrity and “drag your company name and reputation through the muddiest waters imaginable.” The suspect further stated that, if New York Life did not meet his demands by March 10, the company would have to pay him $3 million. On February 24, he sent an e-mail to several employees at the company informing them the “[c]lock is ticking.”

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