A Florida man was sentenced 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, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey.
Timothy Livingston, 31, of Boca Raton, Florida, was sentenced Tuesday to serve 48 months in prison before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini of the District of New Jersey. Livingston previously pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with computers and access devices, conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with electronic mail and aggravated identity theft.
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 spam emails on behalf of its clients. Livingston’s clients included legitimate businesses, such as insurance companies that wished to send bulk emails to advertise their businesses, as well as illegal entities, such as online pharmacies that sold narcotics without prescriptions.
As part of his plea, 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 bypassed filters. Livingston also used proxy servers and botnets to remain anonymous and evade spam blocking techniques. Livingston further admitted that he 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.
The FBI’s Cyber Division investigated the case. Senior Trial Attorney William Hall Jr. of the 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. Attorney Sarah Devlin of the Asset Forfeiture-Money Laundering Unit prosecuted the case.