Three Charged in Hacking Scheme That Stole a Billion Email Addresses

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Two Vietnamese citizens and one Canadian have been charged in a series of data breaches in which hackers infiltrated at least eight email service providers in the U.S. and stole more than a billion email addresses, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday. The hackers then used the data to send email spam to tens of millions of recipients, making millions of dollars in the process, federal prosecutors said. Together, the breaches add up to one of the largest in U.S. history, and were the subject of a congressional inquiry in June 2011, according to the Justice Department.

Giang Hoang Vu, 25, was arrested by Dutch law enforcement in Deventer, Netherlands, in 2012 and extradited to the United States. He pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and faces sentencing on April 21, according to the Justice Department. Viet Quoc Nguyen, 28, also a citizen of Vietnam who was living in the Netherlands, remains at large. David-Manuel Santos Da Silva, 33, of Montreal, was indicted by a federal grand jury this week for conspiracy to commit money laundering. Authorities say he helped Nguyen and Vu to generate revenue from the spam and launder the proceeds.

"This case reflects the cutting-edge problems posed by today’s cybercrime cases, where the hackers didn’t target just a single company; they infiltrated most of the country’s email distribution firms," Acting U.S. Attorney John A. Horn said in a statement. "And the scope of the intrusion is unnerving, in that the hackers didn't stop after stealing the companies' proprietary data — they then hijacked the companies' own distribution platforms to send out bulk emails and reaped the profits from email traffic directed to specific websites."

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— James Eng
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