‘Spammer convicted of massive data theft

15 August 2005 The former CEO of an email marketing company has been found guilty of stealing 1.6 billion customer files from data management company Acxiom in one of the largest data theft trials ever held.

US prosecutors said Florida-based Scott Levine and his company Snipermail.com exploited a security flaw in Acxiom’s system to steal 1.6 billion customer records over a 16-month period that ended in August 2003.

Prosecutors said Snipermail was run as a spam factory, and the theft of Acxiom’s data was intended to boost its market value. Experian, an Atlanta-based credit bureau that monitors consumer credit information, said it was approached by Snipermail about the sale of newly-enlarged customer contact list.

“Law enforcement officials have provided us with no indication that any individuals have been harmed by this unlawful intrusion,” said Acxiom in a statement.


The jury convicted Levine, 46, on 120 counts of unauthorised access to data, two counts of access device fraud and one count of obstruction of justice. He was cleared of 13 counts of unauthorised access to a protected computer, as well as conspiracy and money-laundering.

Six former Snipermail.com employees testified against Levine in the case, after they pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges levied against them.

Levine’s lawyer, David Garvin, accused the group of downloading unauthorised data and then passing the blame to their boss. Garvin said the fight to clear Levine’s name would continue.

In the aftermath of the security breach, Acxiom said it had bolstered its security arrangements.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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