Hacker Indicted in Major Cyber-Crime Plot “To Get Rich or Die Tryin”

August 18, 2009

(ChattahBox)—An American cyber criminal mastermind, together with two Russian co-conspirators, were indicted in federal district court in New Jersey on Monday for hacking into the computer systems of several major companies and stealing personal data from more than 130 million credit and debit cards.

Albert Gonzalez, 28 of Miami, Florida is described by federal prosecutors, as a leader of a notorious cyber crime gang that spans the globe, stealing credit card data and identities responsible for the largest hacking crime spree in the history of the United States.

Gonzalez, together with the two unnamed Russian hackers, were charged with crimes of gaining unauthorized access to computers, computer fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Mr. Gonzalez faces up to 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

Gonzalez and his gang hacked into the computer systems of five companies, including Hannaford Bros. supermarkets, 7-Eleven and Heartland Payment Systems Inc., a company that processes credit-card payments, which many companies use. Gonzales was also previously involved in hacking into the computer systems of TJX Cos., stealing more than 40 million credit-card numbers, resulting in losses to the company of $200 million.

From 2006-2008, Gonzalez hacked into the national restaurant chain Dave & Buster’s Inc. He was finally arrested for that crime in May 2008 and has been in jail since.

Authorities have been aware of Gonzalez, at least since 2003, when he was arrested in connection to the massive hacking operation involving TJX Cos., the parent company of the TJ Maxx retail chain. He wasn’t charged for that crime, because he turned into an informant for the Secret Service, which ultimately led to the arrest of 26 leaders of a 4,000-person crime ring responsible for the breach into TJX Cos.

In 2004, federal officials allowed Gonzales to move to Miami, where at some point, he resumed his cyber crime activities, right under the noses of authorities, until he was arrested again last year. His Miami-based enterprise made use of a network of computers from New Jersey, California, Illinois, Latvia, the Netherlands and the Ukraine.

Together with his Russian cohorts, Gonzalez also installed “back doors” and “sniffer” programs on victim’s computers.

Gonzales has a colorful history in the world of cyber criminals, according to the details that emerged from the indictment. With only a high school education, Gonzales, managed to position himself as a rising star in an Internet hacking gang, named “Shadowcrew.” One of his favorite online aliases was “soupnazi,” apparently referring to a colorful character on the TV show, “Seinfeld.”

At some point during his cyber crime spree, Gonzales had so many $20 dollar bills stolen from ATM machines, that he complained to his cohorts when his money counter had broken and he was forced to count $340,000 by hand.

In his hey day, Gonzales was on top of the world, as the leader of a computer hacking enterprise he named, “operation get rich or die tryin,” where he targeted Fortune 500 companies. Now, the 28-year-old sits in federal detention facing 25 years in prison.

Source


Comments

6 Responses to “Hacker Indicted in Major Cyber-Crime Plot “To Get Rich or Die Tryin””

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  2. Frank Fitton on August 18th, 2009 2:39 pm

    Hopefully Mr. Gonzalez’s actions can have a beneficial effect. Companies can learn to better protect our sensitive information, and consumers can learn just how vigilant they need to be in regards to their finances. It might be a lot to ask, but I think some good can come from this.

    Of course its hard when it oftentimes seem like our best and brightest minds would rather go into the criminal side of the computing world, than the legitimate one.

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