A Boca Raton, Florida, man pleaded guilty in a New Jersey federal court for his role in a computer hacking and identity theft scheme that hijacked customer email accounts to send bulk unsolicited or “spam” emails, and generated more than $1.3 million in illegal profits.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division andU.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey made the announcement.
Timothy Livingston, 31, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini of the District of New Jersey. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2017.
According to admissions made in connection with his plea agreement, beginning as early as 2011, Livingston operated A Whole Lot of Nothing LLC — a business that specialized in sending unsolicited or spam emails on behalf of its clients. Livingston admitted that his clients included legitimate businesses, such as insurance companies that wished to send bulk emails for advertising purposes, as well as illegal entities, such as online pharmacies that sold narcotics without prescriptions.
Livingston admitted that beginning in January 2012, he solicited Tomasz Chmielarz to write computer programs that would send spam in a manner that concealed the true origin of the email and bypass spam filters. Livingston admitted that he then used these programs to transmit spam, and used proxy servers and botnets to remain anonymous, hide the true origin of the spam and evade anti-spam filters and other spam blocking techniques.
According to the plea agreement, Livingston hacked into individual email accounts and utilized corporate mail servers to further his spam campaigns, which enabled him to send out massive amounts of spam without identifying himself as the sender.
In connection with his plea agreement, Livingston consented to the entry of a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $1,346,442, as well as the forfeiture of property obtained using illegal proceeds from the scheme, including a 2009 Cadillac Escalade and a 2006 Ferrari F430 Spider.
Chmielarz, 33, of Rutherford, New Jersey, pleaded guilty for his role in the conspiracy before Judge Martini on June 2.
The FBI’s Cyber Division investigated the case. Senior Trial Attorney William A. Hall Jr. of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Shapiro of the District of New Jersey’s Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Section of the Economic Crimes Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter Gaeta and Sarah Devlin of the District of New Jersey’s Asset Forfeiture-Money Laundering Unit prosecuted the case.