Alleged MySpace hackers arrested

Operators of the Web site have been charged with attempting to extort $150,000 from

The operators of a Web site that allowed users to track their visitors have been charged with trying to extort $US150,000 from the popular social networking site.

Shaun Harrison, 18, and Saverio Mondelli, 19, both of Suffolk County, New York, were arrested last Friday after traveling to Los Angeles to meet with undercover agents posing as MySpace employees, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office said in a statement, released Wednesday.

The meeting was part of an shakedown attempt, the DA said, and the two have now been charged with illegal computer access and extortion. If convicted, the teenagers could face more than four years in prison. MySpace had blocked Harrison and Mondelli's software earlier this year. After it did that, the defendants allegedly threatened to release new "unbreakable" code unless MySpace paid $US150,000, the DA said.

Harrison and Mondelli operate the Web site, which offered users a way to get information on visitors to their MySpace pages. This information included visitor's e-mail addresses, the number of visits they had paid to the MySpace page, and the address of the Web page they had last viewed.

MySpaceplus had claimed to be "the largest MySpace spy community anywhere," with more than 55,000 users, according to a description on the AdBrite advertising marketplace. The service is no longer operational.

Harrison and Mondelli are being held on $US35,000 bail each. A preliminary hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court is set for June 5.

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Robert McMillan

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