A worldwide crackdown on the hacker group known as Anonymous touched down in the McKibbin Lofts in East Williamsburg early on Tuesday — but the target of the FBI raid there had already flown the coop, residents and authorities said.
The blitz was part of a counterattack against the elusive global hacker collective that has allegedly coordinated large-scale attacks on corporate and government websites, including PayPal, MasterCard and Visa. Authorities arrested 16 alleged hackers across the globe and also searched buildings in Long Island.
But they were late to the party in Williamsburg.
“They were looking for the old tenants,” said Meaghan Ralph, 21, who had just moved into the sprawling artist colony two weeks before and had only gotten three hours of sleep when a half-dozen armed agents pounded her door.
“They were trying to be nice when they realized I wasn’t a criminal mastermind.”
An FBI spokesman confirmed that agents came to 255 McKibbin St. to search the apartment.
“Given the transient nature of the occupants, once they saw they were no longer there, [the agents] they made the assessment that they don’t have the need or probable cause to continue the search,” said FBI spokesman Jim Margolin.
It was unclear what role the previous tenants had in the global hacker conspiracy, or whether the feds are still searching for them.
“They cracked jokes about how the whole building smelled like weed and that they were going to get a contact high,” said Ralph. “They said we had a really cool apartment and that they would want to live there if they were 22 or 23.”
It’s not the first time the authorities have chilled at the McKibbin Lofts — and it’s unlikely to be the last.
Two months ago, police swept through the buildings after armed robbers mugged tenants in their living rooms three times over the span of a week.
And city inspectors have responded to several calls in the past two years over illegal construction work and tenement-like living conditions.
— with Aaron Short