Arrests in E-Mail Hacking SchemeProsecutors Target Sites Selling Stolen Passwords
As part of an international investigation, U.S. federal prosecutors have charged five individuals with obtaining unauthorized access to e-mail accounts.
The cases were announced Jan. 24 by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California after authorities in Romania, India and the People's Republic of China arrested six defendants on various computer hacking charges.
Mark Anthony of Cedarville, Ark., and Alan Tabor, of Prairie Grove, Ark., allegedly operated the e-mail hacking website needapassword.com. Each were charged with a felony violation that carries a potential prison sentence of five years, the attorney's office says.
Court documents allege customers of the website provided names of e-mail accounts, and Townsend and Tabor would obtain the passwords to those accounts, the attorney's office says. Customers made PayPal payments and nearly 6,000 e-mail accounts were affected through the needapassword.com scheme.
Defendant John Ross Jesensky of Northridge, Calif., allegedly paid $21,675 to a Chinese website to get e-mail account passwords. Laith Nona of Troy, Mich., allegedly paid approximately $1,081 to get e-mail account passwords. Arthur Drake, of Bronx, N.Y., allegedly paid $1,011 to get e-mail account passwords.
The charges are the result of an international investigation coordinated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which received assistance from the United States Air Force's Office of Special Investigations and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The FBI also coordinated with Romania's Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism and Directorate for Combating Organized Crime; the Republic of India's Central Bureau of Investigation; and the Ministry of Public Security in the People's Republic of China.
Authorities in Romania conducted searches of three residences associated with individuals operating the websites zhackgroup.com, spyhackgroup.com, rajahackers.com, clickhack.com, ghostgroup.org and e-mail-hackers.com. Four individuals have been charged and approximately 1,600 e-mail accounts were affected by the scheme.
India's Central Bureau of Investigation arrested Amit Tiwari for allegedly operating the websites www.hirehacker.net and www.anonymiti.com. Authorities searched the residences of Tiwari and his associates. Operators of the two websites are responsible for obtaining unauthorized access to approximately 935 e-mail accounts, 171 of which belonged to victims in India.
Authorities in China arrested Ying Liu for allegedly operating the website hiretohack.net. Liu is responsible for allegedly obtaining unauthorized access to approximately 300 e-mail accounts.