Friday, March 26, 2010

White Collar: Hacker Sentenced to 20 Years in Identity Theft Case

A federal court judge in Boston sentenced Albert Gonzalez to 20 years in prison for causing thefts of more than $200 million. Gonzalez had stolen more than 40 million debit and credit card numbers. Then, he used those stolen numbers to cause the theft and losses.

Gonzalez had pleaded guilty to breaking into accounts held by the customers of Barnes & Noble, OfficeMax, BJ's Wholesale Club, and other well known retail stores. He had been arrested in 2008 and has been in custody since.

The Gonzalez case shows the potential for serious harm that can result from identity thefts. Gonzalez was able to use sophisticated means to steal the ID numbers of the retailers' customers. In that regard the Gonzalez case is typical of large scale identity theft crimes. In such cases those committing the crimes hack into computers that store identifying information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, or drivers license numbers. Then, using the identities of the victims, the hackers transact business in the names of the victims. The schemes can be for less sophisticated too. For instance violators may obtain ID numbers from stealing mail or obtaining credit card receipts.

For more about the Gonzalez case please see InformationWeek, "Card Hacker Draws 20 Year Sentence," March 25, 2010,

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