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Arrest in Gates extortion plot

The FBI has arrested a 21-year-old Illinois man on charges that he threatened Bill Gates's life in an extortion attempt.

The FBI has reportedly arrested a 21-year-old Illinois man on charges that he threatened Bill Gates's life in an attempt to extort more than $5 million from the Microsoft chairman.

Adam Quinn Pletcher was arrested May 9 after agents posed as Gates in an America Online relationships advice forum to communicate with the man, as he had requested, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The FBI was able to trace Pletcher from a list of AOL subscribers, court documents released yesterday said.

"Law enforcement officials have stressed that at no time were Bill, his family or Microsoft personnel in any danger," said Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray. "At one point Microsoft security made Bill aware of the situation, but the entire situation was handled start to finish by Microsoft security and law enforcement agencies."

"I hope this sends a strong message to those who would commit crimes over the Internet: You cannot hide your crimes by using computers. You will be caught and you will be prosecuted," said Katrina Pflaumer, Attorney General for the Western District of Washington.

Pletcher threatened to kill Gates in a March 10 letter to Redmond postmarked Palatine, Illinois, according to an indictment from the U.S. District Court in Seattle.

The newspaper described Pletcher as a loner who spent several hours a day at his personal computer. In February, he was charged with operating an auto brokerage scam from his personal Web page.

In the letters, Gates was told to comply with monetary demands to "avoid dying, among other things," according to the newspaper. At one point, Pletcher reportedly asked for $5.25 million.