Three men who operated an email spamming business have been charged with hacking into the computers of four companies as part of a scheme that compromised the personal information of more than 60 million people.
Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, said the operators of A Whole Lot of Nothing LLC used the mail servers of their corporate victims to send emails in a way that would bypass filters designed to prevent spam from reaching their customers’ email accounts.
The alleged victims were described as two telecommunications companies, a credit monitoring company, and a technology and consulting company.
Clients of A Whole Lot of Nothing paid $5 to $9 for each email resulting in a successful transaction. Prosecutors said Tomasz Chmielarz, 32, Timothy Livingston, 30, and Devin McArthur, 27, generated more than $2 million in illegal profits from their scheme, which also allegedly involved stealing confidential information from two of the companies, including databases containing the personal data of customers.
McArthur, who worked for one of the companies, allegedly installed a remote administration tool on a computer with access to its network to facilitate the theft of customer records.
The defendants used the stolen data “as well as the compromised computer networks and email accounts to send illegal spam on behalf of others for a fee,” prosecutors said in an indictment charging them with conspiracy to commit fraud and wire fraud.
According to the government, A Whole Lot of Nothing’s clients included legitimate businesses such as insurance companies, as well as illegal entities such as online pharmacies that sold narcotics without prescriptions.
“Beginning in January 2012, Livingston allegedly solicited Chmielarz to write computer programs to send spam in a manner that would conceal the true origin of the email and bypass spam filters,” prosecutors said in a news release.
When authorities seized Livingston’s computer in July, it contained 7 million customer records from a Pennsylvania telecommunications company, according to the indictment. McArthur allegedly estimated that he and his co-conspirators succeeded in stealing 24.5 million records from the company where he worked.