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Three Charged in Theft of One Billion Email Addresses

The addresses, stolen from major email service providers, were used to send spam to tens of millions of people.

Two Vietnamese citizens and a Canadian have been charged over roles in hacking email service providers in the United States in one of the largest reported data breaches in the nation’s history, the Department of Justice said on Friday.

Viet Quoc Nguyen, 28, is charged with hacking at least eight email service providers between February 2009 and June 2012 and obtaining marketing data containing more than one billion email addresses. The names of the affected companies were not disclosed.

According to the allegations, Nguyen and fellow Vietnamese citizen Giang Hoang Vu, 25, used the data to send spam to tens of millions of people.

Both men resided in the Netherlands. Vu, who was extradited to the United States in March of last year, pleaded guilty on Thursday to conspiracy to commit computer fraud. Nguyen remains at large.

The other defendant, Canadian David-Manuel Santos Da Silva, 33, was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. He is the co-owner of a company called 21 Celsius, that allegedly struck up a marketing arrangement with Nguyen and Vu to generate revenue and launder the proceeds, according to the Justice Department.

“This case reflects the cutting-edge problems posed by today’s cyber crime cases, where the hackers didn’t target just a single company, they infiltrated most of the country’s email distribution firms,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John A. Horn of the Northern District of Georgia. “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.”

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.