Giang Hoang Vu faces charges of wire fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to commit computer fraud and was extradited from the Netherlands, where he had been living.
Federal prosecutors say Vu assisted an unnamed co-conspirator in a scheme to hack into the computer systems of companies that provide bulk email services and send spam emails to drive traffic to websites that would generate profit for the alleged co-conspirator.
Some of the companies, which aren’t named in the indictment, have servers in north Georgia, which is why the indictment was filed in Atlanta.
The name of the alleged co-conspirator, who appears to have been the leader in the scheme, is blacked out in the indictment. Vu is named in only two of the 29 counts in the indictment.
The alleged co-conspirator hacked into the computer systems of bulk email service providers beginning in February 2009 or earlier and continuing through June 2012 to steal confidential information, including email addresses, the indictment says. He then coordinated the sending of spam emails directing recipients to sites he controlled.
The alleged co-conspirator engaged in affiliate marketing, earning a commission on sales of goods purchased through websites he controlled, the indictment says. Vu helped his alleged co-conspirator set up some of those websites and also sent spam emails, the indictment says.
Vu also obtained a “crypter” which is designed to hide malware from anti-virus software, the indictment says.