FBI arrests five over 'hackers for hire' websites

Password attack
Image caption Hack-for-hire sites offer to find passwords to open up email account

The FBI has arrested five people in connection with what it says are several hacking-for-hire websites.

Two men have been charged with running and three others with being customers of websites that allegedly offered to obtain access to email accounts.

The swoop against the sites was co-ordinated with police forces in Romania, India and China.

Six other alleged administrators of such sites were arrested as part of the overseas element of the operation.

Mark Anthony Townsend and Joshua Alan Tabor, both of Arkansas, have been charged with operating the website that, according the FBI, charged people to find passwords for about 6,000 email accounts.

If the two are found guilty they face up to five years in jail for computer fraud offences.

The other three people have been charged with paying, between them, more than $23,000 (£14,000) to similar hacker-for-hire websites outside the US to find passwords for a wide variety of email accounts.

Paying a hacker to act on your behalf is a "misdemeanour offense" and if found guilty each defendant could go to a federal jail for 12 months.

In a statement, the FBI said it expected all five defendants to plead guilty.

Four people in Romania, one person in India and one in China were also arrested in connection with websites that allegedly offered to obtain a password for any email account for between $100 (£60) and $500 (£300).

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