An international investigation coordinated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation has identified the operators of 10 hacking websites.
In a series of cases filed in Los Angeles last week week, prosecutors charged five domestic defendants with obtaining unauthorized access to e-mail accounts. All five defendants are expected to plead guilty in the coming weeks.
The domestic cases were announced after authorities in Romania, India, and the People’s Republic of China arrested six defendants on various computer hacking charges.
In the first case, Mark Anthony Townsend, 45, of Cedarville, Arkansas; and Joshua Alan Tabor, 29, of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, who operated the e-mail hacking website needapassword.com, were each charged with a felony violation that carries a potential prison sentence of five years. According to court documents, customers of the website operated by Townsend and Tabor provided names of e-mail accounts, and Townsend and Tabor would obtain the passwords to those accounts. The customers made payments into PayPal accounts and were given the passwords. Nearly 6,000 e-mail accounts were affected by the scheme.
The other three defendants charged last week each face misdemeanor offenses for hiring computer hackers. These customers, who face up to one year in federal prison, are:
- John Ross Jesensky, 30, of Northridge, California, who paid $21,675 to a Chinese website to get e-mail account passwords;
- Laith Nona, 31, of Troy, Michigan, who paid approximately $1,081 to get e-mail account passwords; and
- Arthur Drake, 55, of Bronx, New York, who paid approximately $1,011 to get e-mail account passwords.