Hacker in massive ID theft pleads guilty

Albert Gonzalez plead guilty to charges related to the largest case of identity theft in U.S. history.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)

No power outlet? No problem
Unplug your adventures with off-the-grid gadgets.
Should the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit be extended beyond Nov. 30?
  • Yes
  • No

BOSTON (Reuters) -- The man accused of masterminding the largest identity theft in U.S. history agreed to plead guilty to related charges, according to court papers filed in Boston federal court Friday.

Albert Gonzalez is accused of helping to steal millions of credit card and debit card numbers from major U.S. retail chains, leading to tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent transactions.

A former government informant who is already in jail, Gonzalez, 28, agreed to plead guilty to 19 counts in Massachusetts by Sept. 11. The agreement also resolves charges pending in federal court in New York.

He also faces charges in a New Jersey federal court for a similar crime that is the largest in U.S. history. That case is not affected by the Boston plea, a spokesman at the U.S. District Court in New Jersey said.

A year ago, Gonzalez and 10 other people from five countries were charged with stealing 41 million credit and debit card numbers from retailers TJX Cos (TJX, Fortune 500)., BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. (BJ, Fortune 500), OfficeMax Inc (OMX, Fortune 500), Boston Market, Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS, Fortune 500), Sports Authority, Forever 21 and DSW Inc.

Then, on Aug. 17, Gonzalez was indicted yet again, in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, for stealing more than 130 million card numbers from credit-card processor Heartland Payment Systems and retail chains 7-Eleven Inc. and Hannaford Brothers Co.

His lawyer, Rene Palomino, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

When Gonzalez was first charged, authorities said that he drove around Miami with a laptop computer looking to hack into wireless networks at retail stores. When he found an open network, he collected and then sold account numbers, which were used to conduct tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent transactions.

"Albert Gonzalez was at the top of the heap in stealing credit card numbers and with him off the street people can breathe a huge sigh of relief," said Richard Smith, a principal at Boston Software Forensics, which conducts security audits. "This does not mean that the problem is eliminated. There are a lot of other people doing this in a less sophisticated way which is still very dangerous."

Officials at discount retailer TJX and bookseller Barnes & Noble were not immediately available for comment.

The case is U.S. v. Albert Gonzalez in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, No. 08-10223. To top of page

They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
10 of the most luxurious airline amenity kits When it comes to in-flight pampering, the amenity kits offered by these 10 airlines are the ultimate in luxury More
7 startups that want to improve your mental health From a text therapy platform to apps that push you reminders to breathe, these self-care startups offer help on a daily basis or in times of need. More
5 radical technologies that will change how you get to work From Uber's flying cars to the Hyperloop, these are some of the neatest transportation concepts in the works today. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Copyright 2009 Reuters All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.