Flordia hacker indicted in big online theft case

A 45-year-old man has been indicted on charges of hacking into the computers of the marketing company Acxiom, to access its databases filled with personal, financial and company information, the office of the U.S. Attorney General said Wednesday.

A 144-count indictment was filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Little Rock, against Scott Levine, of Boca Raton, Florida, charging him with conspiracy, unauthorized access of a protected computer, access device fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice, said Christopher Wray, assistant attorney general of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Criminal Division, in a statement.

Representatives from the DOJ and from Acxiom could not immediately be reached for comment.

The charges against Levine, who "effectively controlled" Snipermail.com Inc., are part of what may turn out to be "the largest case of intrusion of personal data to date," the DOJ said. The Web site for Snipermail.com, a company that distributed ads over e-mail, is no longer functional, and the company could not be reached by telephone.

According to the DOJ, the indictment includes 139 counts of illegal access, with Levine and other Snipermail employees being accused of downloading 8.2G bytes of data from the Acxiom server from April 2002 to August 2003.

The case stems from investigations carried out in July of last year into an unrelated matter that lead to the August 2003 arrest and indictment of Daniel Baas, who was also accused of downloading sensitive information from Acxiom. Baas plead guilty in that case on December 2, 2003.

Wray said that the data Levine is accused of stealing did contain "personal information about a great number of individuals" but that the information doesn't appear to have been subsequently used in any fraudulent schemes.

The indictment also charges Levine and others with actively concealing computers from investigators "in order to hide their illicit activity and avoid prosecution," the DOJ said.

Six other individuals associated with Snipermail have agreed to cooperate in the investigation, Wray said.

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