"The charges stem from an alleged scheme to steal vast amounts of personal information from a company database and represent what may be the largest cases of intrusion of personal data to date," Christopher Wray, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, said in a statement.
Scott Levine, 45, from Boca Raton, Fla., was charged in a 144-count indictment of conspiracy, unauthorized access of a protected computer, access device fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of justice. Charges were filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Ark.
Levine is accused of hacking into the systems of Little Rock-based Acxiom Corp., a company that manages personal, financial, and corporate data for its clients. According to the indictment, Levine and others at his Snipermail.com firm stole data over a 16-month period during 2002 and 2003 and caused about $7 million in damages to Acxiom.
According to the Justice Department, Levine "effectively controlled" Snipermail, a spam-sending company that has since unplugged its Web site.
Authorities believe the purloined data was never put to use.
"While the stolen data contained personal information about a great number of individuals and could have resulted in tremendous loss if the information were used in a fraudulent scheme, there is no evidence that any of the data was misused," the Justice Department said in a statement.
This newest case originated with work last July into an unrelated investigation of another hack on Acxiom, which led to the August arrest of an Ohio man. Daniel Baas pleaded guilty in early December to those charges, but additional examination of his intrusions led authorities, including the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service, to Levine.
A half-dozen others associated with Snipermail have agreed to cooperate in the case.