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Plea accepted by miami man in credit card fraud case

Posted on September 10, 2009 3:00 AM EST

In federal court, a Miami computer hacker responsible for the largest case of identity theft and credit card fraud, plead guilty and will serve up to 25 years in prison. Albert Gonzalez, of Miami, entered a guilty plea to conspiracy, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. The guilty pleas encompassed two cases from New York and Boston. Both federal cases were heard in Massachusetts. Gonzalez was responsible for stealing credit card numbers to 170 million accounts. He and his co-conspirators targeted the computer systems of large companies which included Barnes and Noble, Sports Authority, T.J. Maxx and Office Max. The Miami criminal attorney representing Gonzalez said his client was extremely remorseful for his actions.

As a result of the guilty plea, Gonzalez will serve between 15 and 25 years in a federal prison. As a result of his involvement in the largest case of credit card fraud in United States history, he must also forfeit his condo, automobile, jewelry and a substantial amount of cash. Gonzalez was raised in Miami, Florida and became interested in computers as a child. In high school, Gonzalez used a school computer to hack into an Indian government website. The FBI investigated that matter, but he was never charged with a crime.

According to his Miami criminal lawyer, Gonzalez is a computer genius who turned his talents to computer hacking. In 2003, he was arrested on a similar case of computer and credit card fraud. In fact, Gonzalez was working for the Secret Service as an informant at the time he committed these new crimes. Gonzalez used the proceeds from his latest criminal venture to fund his lavish life-style. He purchased expensive jewelry and cars for his girlfriend, friends and family. Gonzalez was arrested while staying at an expensive hotel on Miami Beach with his girlfriend. In May, 2008, law enforcement arrested him with $22,000, computer equipment and a semi-automatic handgun.

Gonzalez and his co-defendants were accused of "wardriving" or using laptop computers to access companies records through the internet. Once the hackers were able to gain access to the records, they used software to capture credit card and debit card numbers. The fraudulently obtained credit and debit card numbers were sold overseas. Although Miami credit card fraud is on the rise, it difficult to imagine seeing a case involving this amount of fraud in the near future.

Florida Man in Credit Card Data Theft Accepts Plea, The Associated Press, August 28, 2009.
Categories: Fraud