US man charged with stealing 130 million card numbers

US man charged with stealing 130 million card numbers

In the biggest case of its kind in US history, prosecutors have charged a Miami man with hacking into the computer networks of payment processors and retailers and stealing the details of 130 million credit and debit cards.

Albert Gonzalez, 28, from Miami, is charged - along with two unnamed co-conspirators - of stealing the data from Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven and Hannaford Brothers.

The accused are said to have used SQL injection attacks, which seeks to exploit computer networks by finding a way around firewalls, to steal the credit and debit card information.

They then sent the stolen card data to computer servers they operated in California, Illinois, Latvia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, say prosecutors.

The three are also accused of using sophisticated hacker techniques to cover their tracks and to avoid detection by anti-virus software used by their victims.

Gonzalez - who once worked as an informant for the US Secret Service - is already in jail after being charged last May for his alleged role in the hacking of a computer network run by a national restaurant chain. Trial on those charges is scheduled to begin in New York in September.

Since then he has also been hit with another series of indictments for hacks affecting eight major retailers - including TJX - and involving the theft of data related to 40 million credit cards. Gonzalez is scheduled for trial on those charges in 2010.

The new two-count indictment alleges conspiracy and conspiracy to engage in wire fraud. If convicted, Gonzalez faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud conspiracy charge and an additional five years on the conspiracy charge, as well as a fine of $250,000 for each.

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