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Cedarville man pleads guilty to stealing passwords

Posted: April 14, 2014 at 12:40 p.m.

A Cedarville man accused of stealing thousands of passwords as part of an online business pleaded guilty Monday to one count of computer hacking, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge.

Mark Anthony Townsend, 45, ran a business from 2002 to 2013 that for a fee stole email passwords so customers could access accounts that didn't belong to them, according to the news release.

The business gained unauthorized access to 5,921 accounts.

“This case involves the repeated invasion of email accounts on a staggering scale," Eldridge said in the news release. "Law-abiding citizens should be protected against hackers who seek to steal their personal information. This defendant violated the privacy of thousands of individuals in order to enrich himself at the expense of others. He has now been held accountable, and we will continue to do all we can to investigate and prosecute those that seek to compromise the security of ordinary people.”

Townsend faces a maximum sentence of five years and a fine up to double the amount of the gross gain or loss caused by the hacking. Victims losses are estimated at $356,235.35, according to the news release.

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