When you see Tracy Valenzuela, you have to wonder if she is the face of a hacker from Anonymous or really just a massage therapist and single mother of try trying to get by.
"I'm normal," Valenzuela said. "I have a garden, I'm a person."
Valenzuela pleaded not guilty recently to federal charges of hacking into the Paypal website last December. The group Anonymous was protesting PayPal's decision to not forward donations to the Internet whistleblower website Wikileaks.
"The indictment alleges that several people launched a DDoS attack on the PayPal servers," Jordanna Thigpin with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy.
A DDoS, or Dedicated Denial of Service, attack floods a server to a point where it is rendered inaccessible.
"I was on the Internet, reading the news," Valenzuela said. "I saw something about PayPal shutting down payments to Wikileaks, and I clicked on some other site and joined a protest. And next thing I knew, my house was surrounded by guns."
Federal agents took her computers and questioned her for five hours.
Thigpin said the case against Valenzuela and other protesters push the limits of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which was mostly designed to protect government systems.
"The only entity that (they) may have suffered is a private company," Thigpin said. "We have to ask ourselves about that."
Neither the FBI nor the U.S. Attorney would comment on this case today, except to say that it is active and ongoing.
In the meantime, Valenzuela says that being wrongly accused has ruined her life and her faith.
"I thought I had the right to protest," Valenzuela said, "but was wrong to think I had the freedom to do it."