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Law

Identity theft case could be largest so far


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Florida man was indicted Wednesday in an alleged scheme to steal vast amounts of personal information, and the Justice Department said it might be the largest illegal invasion and theft of personal data to date.

The 144-count indictment against Scott Levine, 45, also includes charges of conspiracy, fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice, according to the Justice Department.

Levine's alleged target was Acxiom Corp., one of the world's largest companies managing personal, financial and corporate data, federal authorities said.

Levine is accused of stealing vast amounts of personal information from the company via the Internet.

Federal officials said the theft of approximately 8.2 gigabytes of data resulted in losses of more than $7 million.

"The protection of personal information stored on our nation's computer systems is critical to public trust in those networks and to the health of our economy," said Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wray at a news conference in Washington.

"We will aggressively pursue those who steal private information from computer networks and make it clear that there are serious consequences for such crimes," he said.

Levine, a resident of Boca Raton, Florida, is described in the indictment as "the controlling force" in Snipermail.com Inc., a Florida corporation engaged in distributing advertisements via the Internet on behalf of advertisers and brokers.

Acxiom, headquartered in Little Rock and Conway, Arkansas, stores and processes millions of bits of data on behalf of a wide range of clients that include IBM, GE, Microsoft and many major credit card companies.

The invasions from Snipermail were discovered during another investigation of another intrusion at Acxiom last year, authorities said.

The FBI's regional computer forensics laboratory in Dallas, Texas, and computer forensic experts from the FBI and the Secret Service were unleashed on the cyber intruders.

The indictment alleges that Levine and others at the company attempted to hide computers from investigators.

Six employees at the company agreed to cooperate with the investigation, authorities said.


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