Global law-enforcement efforts result in charges against operators, users of email-hacking websites
By AFOSI Public Affairs, Air Force Office of Special Investigations
/ Published March 10, 2014
LOS ANGELES --
The United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations assisted global law-enforcement efforts, lead by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, where federal prosecutors have filed charges against the operators of a U.S.-based email-hacking website. Additionally, law-enforcement authorities in Europe and Asia arrested six individuals on computer-hacking and computer-fraud charges.
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles charged five domestic defendants in four cases filed recently with obtaining unauthorized access to email accounts. All five defendants are expected to plead guilty in the coming weeks. These defendants made their first appearance in U.S. District Court Jan. 24.
Mark Anthony Townsend, 45, of Cedarville, Ark., and Joshua Alan Tabor, 29, of Prairie Grove, Ark., operators of the email-hacking website needapassword.com, were charged with felony violations which could result in five-year prison sentences. According to court documents, customers of the website operated by Townsend and Tabor provided names of email accounts and the defendants would obtain passwords to those accounts. The customers made payments to PayPal accounts and nearly 6,000 email addresses were affected by the scheme.
Three other domestic defendants were also charged with hiring computer hackers. Violators of this misdemeanor offense could face up to one year in federal prison.
Internationally, six additional individuals were arrested and detained on a range of computer-related charges including unauthorized access to more than 2,700 email accounts through a network of websites such as spyhackgroup.com, zhackgroup.com and hirehacker.net.
These resulting charges from coordinated international law-enforcement investigations between February 2011 to March 2013 included assistance from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism and Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (both of Romania), the Central Bureau of Investigation (Republic of India) and the Ministry of Public Security (People's Republic of China).
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Ronald Cheng
Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section