U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Arkansas
(501) 340-2600
September 30, 2014

Cedarville Man Sentenced to 10 Months for Computer and E-Mail Hacking

FORT SMITH, AR—Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that Mark Anthony Townsend, 45, of Cedarville, was sentenced to ten months (5 months in prison and 5 months home detention) followed by five years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. The sentencing took place before the Honorable Paul K. Holmes III in United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith.

U.S. Attorney Eldridge stated “We will actively pursue crimes involving computer intrusion and hacking. Those who perpetrate these crimes intentionally invade the privacy of others and steal information. Such crimes victimize law-abiding citizens and should be investigated and prosecuted.”

According to court records, from May 2002, through June 2013, Townsend operated and participated in an online Internet business which solicited customers who sought, in return for a fee, the passwords for e-mail accounts belonging to others. Townsend and others whom he recruited to participate in the business obtained those passwords without the authorization of the victim e-mail account holders and obtained unauthorized access to those e-mail accounts. The defendant and others involved in the business e-mailed those passwords and screenshots to the customers upon the customers’ payment of the negotiated fees. Through the course of the scheme, Townsend and others obtained unauthorized access, in the form of passwords, to approximately 5,921 e-mail accounts and received approximately $356,235.35 in fees from customers.

“Cyber-crime will remain a priority for the FBI,” states David T. Resch, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Little Rock, “We appreciate the hard work of our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and we will continue work together to identify and bring to justice cyber criminals.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Webb prosecuted the case for the United States.

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