A man in Florida, US, who ran a bulk e-mail company has been convicted of stealing 1.5 billion data files from consumer database company Acxiom, in what is thought to be the largest ever recorded data theft.
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Scott Levine will be sentenced at a later date after a jury found him guilty on 120 counts of computer-based theft, two counts of fraud and one count of obstruction.
The man stole people's street and e-mail addresses, along with credit card and bank account details from Acxiom.
Each count of theft could theoretically attract a five-year prison sentence, while each count of fraud could attract a 10-year sentence. The obstruction of justice conviction could lead to a 20-year sentence. Each count could also result in a $250,000 (£138,000) fine.
The man was acquitted on money laundering and conspiracy charges. The offences took place over a 16-month period up to August 2003, with the man exploiting security weaknesses in Acxiom’s systems.
The stolen data was used to boost the quality of databases held by the man’s bulk e-mail company Snipermail.com, which no longer trades.
Acxiom says it has tightened up its data transfer systems. Prosecutors do not believe any of the stolen personal details were used for cases of identity theft.