After reading the sophisticated ways in which the 11 identity thieves indicted yesterday orchestrated their schemes, we may never use a credit card again.
WSJ: Federal prosecutors charged 11 men in five countries with orchestrating a high-tech operation that stole more than 40 million credit-card numbers from U.S. retailers including TJX Cos., Barnes & Noble Inc., Office Max Inc. and Sports Authority.
The case is the biggest identity-fraud heist ever prosecuted in the U.S. In indictments in Boston and San Diego on Tuesday, the government said the defendants engaged in a sophisticated scheme involving wireless interception of retailers’ data transmissions, “sniffer” programs that stole card numbers as they were being swiped at cash registers, bulk fencing of stolen cards at less than $1 apiece on the Internet, and encrypted computer servers that stored the thieves’ digital plunder in Latvia and Ukraine.
Although the largest of the retail breaches — at TJX, owner of apparel chains TJ Maxx and Marshalls — had been known for more than a year, the indictments presented a picture of cybertheft attack capabilities far more sophisticated and global than had previously been revealed. It was the first time authorities tied together what had been regarded as separate attacks episodically reported by retailers in recent years…
Even creepier, it was an inside job:
The defendant identified as the ringleader in the case, Albert Gonzalez, of Miami, was working as a confidential informant for the Secret Service in its investigation of the retailers’ computer breaches, according to investigators. His indictment states that during the course of his “cooperation,” he obtained “sensitive” information that he used “to warn off conspirators and ensure that they would not be identified and arrested in the course of that investigation.”
Still creepier, they don’t know where the eleventh suspect was based:
Three of the suspects are from the U.S., in addition to three from Ukraine, two from China, one from Estonia and another from Belarus. The place of origin of the eleventh suspect isn’t known. Law-enforcement officials have identified him only by his online alias.
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