U.S. News

Calif. man accused of NY Life extortion attempt

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A California man angry about a denied insurance claim was arrested and charged with extortion after he sent an email to New York Life threatening to damage its business, federal prosecutors and a company spokesman said on Monday.

Anthony Digati, 52, of Chino, California, also threatened to send computer spam to the insurer in his attempt to extort about $200,000, according to Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

“I have 6 MILLION emails going out to couples with children age 25-40, this e-mail campaign is ordered and paid for,” the criminal complaint quoted a February 22 email as saying.

“2 million go out on the 8th (of March) and every two days 2 million more for three weeks rotating the list,” it went on. “Of course it is spam, I hired a spam service, I could care less, The damge will be done.”

Digati could not be reached to comment at his home telephone number.

New York Life insurance company spokesman William Werfelman confirmed it was the target of the threats.

“After Mr. Digati contacted the Company with his threats we conducted a thorough internal investigation and determined the best course of action was to turn this over to the FBI for their assessment,” the spokesman said in an emailed statement.

The government alleged that Digati bought variable universal life insurance from the insurer, which was not identified. It said the defendant sent the email to more than a dozen employees, executives and one board member at the insurer.

“As you have denied my claim I can only respond in this way,” Digati allegedly wrote. “You no longer have a choice in the matter, unless of course you want me to continue with this outlined plan. I have nothing to lose, you have everything to lose.”

Digati is expected to appear Monday before a federal magistrate judge in Riverside, California. He faces up to two years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine if convicted.

The case is U.S. v. Digati, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 10-mag-00451.

Reporting by Grant McCool, additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; editing by John Wallace and Matthew Lewis