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Darkode’ Hacker Pleads Guilty to Aiding Online Break-Ins

A hacker charged with helping to break into least 77,000 computers through the online hacking forum Darkode pleaded guilty on Monday in U.S. District Court, prosecutors said. Eric Crocker, 39, of Binghamton, New York, was among 12 people charged in July when the international hacking forum was dismantled by U.S. authorities working with law enforcement around the world. Crocker, who went by the online moniker "Phastman," pleaded guilty to one count of violating the CAN-SPAM Act, a federal law on violations of Internet communication, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Pittsburgh said in a statement.

Prosecutors said Crocker used a hacking tool called Facebook Spreader to break into protected computers. Crocker and other Darkode hackers would then sell access to affected computers to people seeking to send out commercial messages. They were periodically paid between $200 and $300 for every 10,000 active computer infections.

Related: International Crackdown Targets 'Darkode' Market for Stolen Data

Crocker faces up to three years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both, the statement said. Sentencing is set for Nov. 23. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney'sOffice in Pittsburgh led the investigation into Darkode.

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