One pleads guilty, one arraigned in court and one goes on the run.
Three men have been charged in the US for their roles in the theft of more than one billion email addresses, in what the Justice Department claims is the largest data breach in history.
Two Vietnamese residing in the Netherlands were accused of hacking email providers in the US, with one of them pleading guilty, whilst a Canadian was indicted by a federal grand jury on allegations of laundering profits from the scheme.
Leslie Caldwell, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said: "These men – operating from Vietnam, the Netherlands, and Canada – are accused of carrying out the largest data breach of names and email addresses in the history of the Internet.
"The defendants allegedly made millions of dollars by stealing over a billion email addresses from email service providers. This case again demonstrates the resolve of the Department of Justice to bring accused cyber hackers from overseas to face justice in the United States."
According to the indictments, Viet Quoc Nguyen, 28, hacked into eight email service providers between February 2009 and June 2012, stealing confidential information and proprietary marketing data which included the email addresses.
Alongside Giang Hoang Vu, 25, the alleged hacker is accused of using the data to send millions of spam messages, in partnership with Canadian David-Manuel Santos Da Silva, 33, who is accused of helping the pair generate revenue through an affiliate programme.
"This case reflects the cutting-edge problems posed by today’s cybercrime cases, where the hackers didn’t target just a single company; they infiltrated most of the country’s email distribution firms," said acting US attorney John Horn.
"And the scope of the intrusion is unnerving, in that the hackers didn’t stop after stealing the companies’ proprietary data – they then hijacked the companies’ own distribution platforms to send out bulk emails and reaped the profits from email traffic directed to specific websites."
Vu was arrested in the Netherlands in 2012, and extradited to the US last year, before pleading guilty this February to charges of conspiracy to commit computer fraud. Nguyen remains at large, whilst Da Silva was arraigned in an Atlanta court on Friday.
The trials continue.