The FBI has arrested five United States citizens – two on charges of operating a U.S.-based email hacking website and three for patronizing hacking websites based in other parts of the world – as part of a worldwide operation involving Romania, India and China.
Arkansas residents Mark Townsend, 45, and Joshua Tabor, 29, were charged in Los Angeles this week for operating email hacking website needapassword.com, according to a Friday FBI release, which adds that the two men are responsible for the compromise of nearly 6,000 email accounts.
Based on court documents referred to in the release, Townsend and Tabor would provide customers with an email account's password after the client provided a name and an email address. The men – who accepted payment via PayPal – face prison time of up to five years.
For seeking email account passwords from operators outside the U.S., John Jesensky, 30, of California, was charged for paying more than $21,000 to a hacker service, and Laith Nona, 31, of Michigan, and Arthur Drake, 55, of New York, were charged with spending a little more than $1,000.
The FBI built its cases with the assistance of law enforcement officials in Romania, India and China, as well as other agencies in the U.S.
As a result, four individuals were arrested for operating email hacking websites in Romania that led to the compromise of 1,600 accounts, one man in India was arrested for operating a service that compromised almost 1,000 email accounts, and one man in China was arrested for illegally accessing about 300 email accounts.