US charges 11 in massive credit, debit card scam

WASHINGTON, August 6, 2008 (AFP) – Eleven people were indicted in Boston Tuesday for stealing and selling some 40 million credit and debit card numbers they obtained by hacking into the computers of nine major US retailers, the US Justice Department said.

In what the department believes is the largest hacking and identity theft case it has ever prosecuted, the stolen numbers were sold via the Internet to other criminals in the US and Eastern Europe and used to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars at a time from ATMs.

The eleven defendants include three US citizens, three from Ukraine, two from China, one from Belarus, one from Estonia and one whose place of origin is unknown, the department said in a statement.

The indictment was returned Tuesday by federal grand juries in Boston, Massachusetts, and San Diego, California.

It alleges that the conspirators obtained the credit and debit card numbers by “wardriving” and hacking into the wireless computer networks of major retailers, including TJX Companies, BJ’s Wholesale Club, OfficeMax, Boston Market, Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority, Forever 21 and DSW.

Once inside the networks, they installed “sniffer” programs that captured card numbers, as well as password and account informatio