Justice Dept. Charges Three with Largest Data Breach in History

Monday, March 09, 2015
Viet Quoc Nguyen (photo: Facebook)

Three men are charged with stealing email addresses from email service providers (ESP) and then using those companies’ computers to send out massive amounts of spam directing recipients to the defendants’ sites. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell called it “the largest data breach of names and email addresses in the history of the Internet.”


Viet Quoc Nguyen and Giang Hoang Vu, both Vietnamese nationals, were indicted (pdf) in 2012 by federal prosecutors for hacking their way into ESPs, and then using their networks to send spam to tens of millions of users. A third man, David-Manuel Santos Da Silva of Canada, allowed the other two to direct traffic to his Marketbay.com site. Vu and Nguyen would get commissions on the sales generated at the Marketbay site. The indictment against Nguyen and Vu was unsealed Thursday.


“Between approximately May 2009 and October 2011, Nguyen and Da Silva received approximately $2 million for the sale of products derived from Nguyen’s affiliate marketing activities,” according to a Justice Department release.


Vu pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and will be sentenced in April. Da Silva was indicted last week for conspiracy to commit money laundering. Nguyen has not been captured.


Nguyen and Vu used “phishing” schemes to gain access to some of the ESPs. Employees there were sent legitimate looking emails. Once they clicked on a link within the emails, malware was installed on their computers that allowed the defendants to gain access to their company’s network.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Indictment Unsealed and Additional Defendant Charged for One of the Largest Reported Data Breaches In U.S. History (Justice Department)

Indictment (pdf)

Hackers Access 80 Million Anthem Health Insurance Records (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)


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