Florida Man Guilty of Stealing 1.5 Billion Data Files

A Florida man who ran a bulk e-mail company was convicted on Friday of stealing more than 1.5 billion data files from Acxiom Corp. in what federal officials said was one of the largest recorded cases of data theft.

Scott Levine, 46, of Boca Raton, Florida, will be sentenced January 6 after a U.S. district court jury found him guilty on 120 counts of theft by computer, two counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice.

Each theft count carries a possible sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine while each fraud counts could result in 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The obstruction count could bring a

20-year sentence and a $250,000 fine.

Jurors acquitted Levine of money-laundering and conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors said Levine, during a 16-month period that ended in August

2003, exploited a security weakness in Acxiom's system to steal the files, which he hoped to use to inflate the value of Snipermail.com Inc., his bulk email company, which is now out of business.

Levine was primarily stealing street and e-mail addresses and credit card and checking account numbers. Millions of consumers had their data stolen but U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins said there apparently had been no cases of identity theft or related crimes.

When Levine was indicted in July 2004, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Christopher Wray said the case "may be the largest intrusion of personal data ever."

Acxiom, one of the world's largest creators of consumer databases, has said it has tightened security for its file transfer protocol server.

Several former Snipermail employees testified against Levine under plea agreements. Levine's attorneys had argued he was the victim of an employee conspiracy to frame him for the data theft.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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