Paypal and Mastercard stopped allowing users to donate to the Wikileaks website and as a result the money transfer organisations became a target for the Anonymous group who plotted revenge in a ploy nicknamed ‘Operation Payback’.

As a result of their actions, Southwark Crown court was told that PayPal, owned by eBay, ‘lost £3.5 million’ causing “enormous economic harm” as the site became inoperable.

Prosecuter Sandip Patel described the instructions available online advising users on how to join the hacking DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks on the targeted website “It says the chances are next to zero because so many are doing it. You simply deny knowing what they are talking about, or say you have been infected by a virus.”

Describing the strength-in-numbers approach, Patel said “If you try to do this alone, the chances are much higher you will get caught.”

Peter Gibson, 24 and Ashley Rhodes, 28, along with an 18 year old man who remains anonymous for legal reasons have all pleaded guilty to conspiring to impair the operation of computers, according to the BBC.

Christopher Weatherhead, 22, who is accused of posting plans and instructions for other Anonymous members online, has pleaded not guilty.