3 Men Charged in Historic Data Breach

In an indictment unveiled Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. Department of Justice charged three men with reaping millions from one of the largest data breaches in the history of the Internet.

The indictment alleges that over a period of more than three years, from February 2009 to June 2012, a Vietnamese citizen named Viet Quoc Nguyen, 28, hacked into eight different e-mail service providers and stole "confidential information, including proprietary marketing data containing over one billion e-mail addresses."

We reached out to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia, who told us that the office is not releasing the names of the affected e-mail service providers at this time.

Millions Generated from Spam

According to the indictment, Nguyen partnered with another Vietnamese citizen, Giang Hoang Vu, 25, to use the stolen addresses to send out tens of millions of spam e-mails to recipients around the world.

The e-mails contained links to Web sites promoted by an affiliate marketing program called MarketBay.com, which was owned and operated by a Canadian corporation called 21 Celsius Inc. Montreal resident David-Manuel Santos Da Silva, 33, was behind the company and the affiliate marketing program.

Nguyen and Vu signed up with MarketBay.com as affiliate marketers, which meant that they received commissions on any sales generated through their massive spam promotional efforts. The Justice Department estimates that between 2009 and 2011, the spam sent by Nguyen generated roughly $2 million in sales on the MarketBay.com Web site.

Dutch investigators arrested Vu in 2012 and he was extradited to the United States in March 2014. He plead guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud on February 5. Da Silva was apprehended at the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport on February 12 and arraigned in Atlanta on Friday. Nguyen remains...

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