Operators of email hacking websites arrested in US, China, Romania

As part of an international law enforcement operation involving Romania, India, and China, US federal prosecutors have charged two operators of a United States-based email hacking website, as well as three customers of other hacking websites based in other nations, with computer fraud offenses.

Mark Anthony Townsend, 45, of Cedarville, Arkansas; and Joshua Alan Tabor, 29, of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, allegedly operated the email hacking website needapassword.com.

According to court documents, customers of the website operated by Townsend and Tabor provided names of email accounts, and Townsend and Tabor would obtain the passwords to those accounts. The customers made payments into PayPal accounts and nearly 6,000 email accounts were affected by the scheme.

The other three defendants charged this week each face misdemeanor offenses for hiring computer hackers. These customers, who face up to one year in federal prison, are:

  • John Ross Jesensky, 30, of Northridge, California, who paid $21,675 to a Chinese website to get email account passwords
  • Laith Nona, 31, of Troy, Michigan, who paid approximately $1,081 to get email account passwords
  • Arthur Drake, 55, of Bronx, New York, who paid approximately $1,011 to get email account passwords.

These charges are the product of an international investigation coordinated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIIOCT) and Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (DCCO) of Romania, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of the Republic of India, and the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) in the People’s Republic of China.

In Romania, the DCCO, under the authority of DIICOT, has conducted searches of three residences associated with individuals operating the websites zhackgroup.com, spyhackgroup.com, rajahackers.com, clickhack.com, ghostgroup.org, and email-hackers.com. Four individuals have been charged and detained in connection with the operation of those websites. Approximately 1,600 email accounts were affected by the scheme operated by the subjects in Romania between February 2011 and October 2012.

The Central Bureau of Investigation in India has arrested Amit Tiwari for operating the websites www.hirehacker.net and www.anonymiti.com and conducted searches of the residences of Tiwari and his associates. Operators of the two websites are responsible for obtaining unauthorized access to approximately 935 email accounts (of which 171 belonged to victims in India) between February 2011 and February 2013.

The MPS in China has arrested Ying Liu, also known as “Brent Liu,” for operating website hiretohack.net. Liu is responsible for obtaining unauthorized access to approximately 300 email accounts between January 2012 and March 2013.

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