Courts & Crime

Miami man indicted in largest-ever credit card number theft scheme

MIAMI — Albert Gonzalez, the Miami cyberthief and former government informant who broke records last year in the largest credit card fraud case in U.S. history, shattered his own mark this week, prosecutors say.

The 28-year-old hacker who launched his career cruising Dixie Highway with a laptop to break into the security systems of box stores was indicted Monday in New Jersey in an elaborate scheme to steal more than 130 million credit cards — reselling them on the worldwide black market.

Known in dark corners of cyberspace as "soupnazi," the Miami native was charged along with two unnamed defendants with targeting customers at convenience store giant 7-Eleven and supermarket chain Hannaford Brothers. The defendants also are accused of infiltrating the computers of a national credit card processing company.

Prosecutors said Gonzalez, who is already in jail awaiting trial in the earlier case, used a sophisticated hacking technique known as "SQL injection" to break into computer systems and steal credit and debit card records, sending the data to California, Illinois, Latvia, the Netherlands and Ukraine.

The data would then be printed on fresh cards and offered to thousands of buyers in cafes and nightclubs around the world.

Prosecutors said the case is the largest credit and debit card data breach "ever charged in the United States."

The indictment represents the latest brush with the law for Gonzalez, a Cuban American high school graduate who became known to local hackers for his extraordinary computer skills and ability to navigate vast streams of data.

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