Louisiana Man Arrested for Releasing 911 Worm to WebTV Users (February 19, 2004)
DOJ Seal
February 19, 2004

U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Northern District of California
11th Floor, Federal Building
450 Golden Gate Avenue, Box 36055
San Francisco, California 94102
(415) 436-7200
Fax: (415) 436-7234

Louisiana Man Arrested for Releasing 911 Worm to WebTV Users

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California announced that FBI agents arrested a Louisiana man yesterday for sending an e-mail to certain users of a WebTV service that, once opened, reprogrammed their computers to dial “9-1-1” instead of a local Internet access telephone number. The 9-1-1 calls caused by the e-mail resulted in the dispatch of police in locations from New York to California. David Jeansonne, 43, of Metairie, Louisiana, appeared in federal court this afternoon in New Orleans on a two-count indictment that was unsealed in San Francisco today. The indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury sitting in San Francisco late last week, charges Jeansonne with two counts of intentionally causing damage to computers, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1030(a)(5)(A)(i). The indictment alleges that Mr. Jeansonne transmitted a computer virus to subscribers of the WebTV internet service in July 2002. WebTV is a product of Microsoft Corporation that allows subscribers to connect to the Internet using their standard television as a monitor. The indictment alleges that Jeansonne sent certain WebTV users, e-mails with an executable attachment containing a computer code that reset the dial-in telephone numbers of the users’ WebTV boxes to “9-1-1,” the emergency telephone number commonly connected to local police dispatchers. The indictment alleges in Count One that Jeansonne’s actions caused a threat to public health and safety and in Count Two that those actions caused losses of at least $5,000. An affidavit filed in connection with a search warrant for Jeansonne’s residence in Louisiana also alleges that the e-mail sent by Jeansonne characterized the attachment as a harmless program that, when executed, simply changed the colors displayed on the user’s television screen. However, unknown to the WebTV user, the executed attachment caused the user’s WebTV box to dial 9-1-1 the next time the user attempted to connect to the Internet. If the user did not try to connect to the Internet for the rest of the day, the WebTV box dialed 9-1-1 at midnight, due to the fact that the WebTV boxes were pre-programmed to connect to WebTV’s servers in Santa Clara, California at midnight each day in order to receive software and other updates. The affidavit filed in connection with the search warrant also alleges that a total of 21 WebTV users received the e-mail and that at least 10 of those individuals reported that local police either called or visited their residences in response to a 9-1-1 call. Mr. Jeansonne made his initial appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Louis Moore in New Orleans, and was released on a $25,000 bond. Jeansonne is scheduled to appear again for a removal hearing before the Magistrate Judge in New Orleans on February 27, 2004. The maximum statutory penalty for each count in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(5)(A)(i) is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if appropriate. However, any sentence following conviction would be dictated by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and would be imposed in the discretion of the Court. An indictment simply contains allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Mr. Jeansonne must be presumed innocent unless and until convicted. The prosecution is being overseen by the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office and is the result of an investigation by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Kyle F. Waldinger is the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the CHIP Unit who is prosecuting the case. A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at Related court documents and information may be found on the District Court website at or on http://pacer.cand.uscourts/gov. All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Jacobs at (415) 436-7181.