The British college student who launched an ad gimmick on the Web that took in $1 million in a few months has received threatening letters from blackmailers apparently behind a massive denial of service attack, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Alex Tew, creator of the Million Dollar Homepage, received a letter threatening to take the site down if Tew didn't pay $50,000, spokeswoman Imal Wagner confirmed.
The London-based Financial Times reported earlier on its Web site that the hacker, believed to be Russian, sent an email that read, "Hello u website is under us atack to stop the DDoS send us 50000$."
The email followed another threat Tew received Jan. 7 from an organization calling itself The Dark Group and demanding $5,000, Wagner confirmed. Tew believed it was a hoax and ignored the threat.
The FBI, which has declined comment, and London authorities have been notified, Wagner said.
Tew drew international attention when his idea to sell a million pixels on his homepage for a $1 each to advertisers took off. Last week, an EBay Inc. auction for the last 1,000 pixels brought in $38,100, which brought the total amount of money raised to $1,037,100. Tew launched the gimmick in September to raise money for college expenses.
The attack began shortly after the EBay auction, escalating over the last several days and causing intermittent outages.
As of Wednesday, the site's server was being bombarded by 400 megabytes of "garbage data" per second, overwhelming the system and causing its performance to plummet, Russell Weiss, vice president of technical services for the hosting company, InfoRelay Online Systems Inc., said.