An ex-government informant has been charged with the largest identity theft scam in the US history, in which he stole details of as many as 130 million credit cards and debit cards accounts from big retail companies.
Albert Gonzalez, 28, of Miami, who previously worked with the US secret agency, has had two anonymous Russian accomplices, who helped him in breaching into the databases of some of the big retail chains, and selling the stolen information across the world.
As per the 14-page indictment, the hackers picked credit card details from the store ‘7-Eleven’, ‘Heartland Payment Systems’, which is a New Jersey-based firm that specializes in processes payments, and ‘Hannaford’, the popular supermarket chain. In addition, the hackers also targeted two other unnamed companies, according to the reports from US attorney’s office in New Jersey.
The indictment further notified that Gonzalez, along with his partners, used sophisticated techniques to keep away from detection, such as connecting to firms’ computers using proxy servers, testing around 20 distinct antivirus applications to check out whether their malware might be caught, as well as employing malware that tried to remove signs of its presence.
Gonzalez was previously working with the US secret service to catch the hackers, but later was caught have been helping criminals by passing the crucial details on various investigations to them, authorities said.
Also known as “soupnazi” among online users, Gonzalez is already in jail in New York, charged with others of picking the credit card information of almost 40 million people across the globe.
This is a sad case of a white hat hacker who turned bad and joined the dark side. How many of those chose to become criminals, lured by the staggering amount of money they can get from selling credit card details? There are almost certainly scores of other such hackers who have managed to stay under the radar because they are located in countries such as China or Russia where law enforcement is a more complex procedure.