On the eve of their federal criminal trial for allegedly stealing vast swaths of Internet addresses for use in large-scale email spam campaigns, three current or former executives at online advertising firm Adconion Direct have agreed to plead guilty to lesser misdemeanor charges of fraud and misrepresentation via email.
Federal prosecutors in California have filed criminal charges against four employees of Adconion Direct, an email advertising firm, alleging they unlawfully hijacked vast swaths of Internet addresses and used them in large-scale spam campaigns. KrebsOnSecurity has learned that the charges are likely just the opening salvo in a much larger, ongoing federal investigation into the company’s commercial email practices.
In the early days of the Internet, there was a period when Internet Protocol 4 (IPv4) addresses (e.g. 188.8.131.52) were given out like cotton candy to anyone who asked. But these days companies are queuing up to obtain new IP space from the various regional registries that periodically dole out the prized digits. With the value of a single IP hovering between $15-$25, those registries are now fighting a wave of shady brokers who specialize in securing new IP address blocks under false pretenses and then reselling to spammers. Here’s the story of one broker who fought back in the courts, and lost spectacularly.
On May 14, South Carolina U.S. Attorney Sherri Lydon filed criminal wire fraud charges against Amir Golestan, alleging he and his Charleston, S.C. based company Micfo LLC orchestrated an elaborate network of phony companies and aliases to gather more than 735,000 IPs from the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), a nonprofit which oversees IP addresses assigned to entities in the U.S., Canada, and parts of the Caribbean.