Eleven people across four nations have been arrested in connection with email-hacking websites following a coordinated sting by law enforcement in the US, Romania, India, and China.
Prosecutors in the US filed four separate cases against five US-based defendants last week, accusing them of either buying or selling email account credentials on the website needapassword.com.
Two men from Arkansas each face up to five years in prison for running a rent-a-hacker service in which customers would supply email addresses that the pair would compromise.
According to a statement by the US Attorney's Office, customers would make payments to the operators' PayPal accounts in the scheme, which has affected 6,000 email accounts and was by far the largest of the operations caught in the sting.
Separately, three US-based buyers who collectively spent over $23,000 on email hacking services face misdemeanour offences for hiring the hackers.
The US arrests came as part of wider crackdown on email hacking services coordinated by the FBI with the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIIOCT) and Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (DCCO) of Romania, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in India, and the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) in China.
Romanian authorities arrested and charged four people in connection with six email hacking websites. Schemes run by the arrested Romanian hackers affected approximately 1,600 email accounts.
India's CBI arrested an individual for operating two sites which were behind unauthorised access to 935 email accounts between February 2011 and February 2013.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities arrested another man for operating a site responsible for unauthorised access to 300 email accounts between January 2012 and March 2013.