Feds Say 5 Hackers Stole 160 Million Credit Card Numbers

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Federal prosecutors charged five men Thursday with stealing 160 million credit card numbers over the course of seven years, in what is being called the largest data theft case ever prosecuted in the U.S.

Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney in New Jersey, said that hackers from Russia and Ukraine participated in a "worldwide scheme that targeted major corporate networks, stole more than 160 million credit card numbers and resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses," reports Bloomberg Law.

Their collaborator in the far-reaching scheme was Albert Gonzalez, a hacker currently serving 20 years in federal prison for stealing credit card numbers from retailers including 7-Eleven and OfficeMax (OMX).

The stolen payment data was encoded onto magnetic strips and used to make purchases at merchants and withdraw money from ATMs. Reuters reports that corporate victims of the scheme include Visa (V), NASDAQ, J.C. Penney (JCP) and JetBlue (JBLU), and the U.S. attorney said that just three of the victimized companies account for $300 million in losses.

Federal law severely limits consumers' liability in cases of credit or debit card fraud, so such data breaches ultimately have the greatest impact on financial institutions. That doesn't mean they can't be a tremendous headache for cardholders, though -- especially those who don't notice the fraudulent charges right away.

And this case is yet another reminder that even the most careful consumers can become victimized by identity theft and financial fraud if the companies they do business with are breached. As such, it's important to take proactive steps to protect yourself, including monitoring your accounts carefully, setting up account alerts for unusual activity and signing up for an identity theft protection service.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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August 01 2013 at 8:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

and NOW for some comic relief
and SOME out here will get IT


The government transparency website Cryptome.org has published 1,350 names and email addresses of corporate titans, media figures and policy executives who are on the Council on Foreign Relations.


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July 28 2013 at 10:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Time to send in some hit squads, that is the ONLY deterrent these people will understand . And even that act would not stop all of them, but I bet it would slow it down greatly.

July 28 2013 at 6:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ccurt78's comment

nsa LOVES U !

July 28 2013 at 11:18 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

With all the digital networks, It looks and sounds like the technolgy is going to be the
end of our economic survival. . There are no permanet safeguards . There will always be
the individuals who will take advantage.

July 28 2013 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to johedspe5's comment

You are right... worrying about this stuff on a personal level is a waste of time. We are way past being able to get a handle on the Privacy topic. Everytime you go into a department store you now have your picture taken and when you leave your picture is taken again and then your license plate is recorded when you get to the parking lot. Your Grocery Supermarkets can't wait to send you a card and you are so glad to get it because you will save fifteen cents on your next box of cornflakes. Viola--- they know everything about you and your family. Believe me - they sell that info to anyone that can use it..As long as we can blame the Feds for everything.. we will not notice wht the rest of the world is doing to us.

August 01 2013 at 8:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Wall Street Journal did a more in-depth piece on this a couple days ago. The five hackers were all Russians or Ukrainians. Eastern Europe is infested with hackers.

July 28 2013 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So again the Feds gain on the backs of those who loose??????????

July 28 2013 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mom and Dad

This whole thing is just a scam to sell you identity theft protection. Its kind of like when someone gets a perm which damages your hair, then the hairdresser sells you special shampoo to repair damaged hair.

July 28 2013 at 3:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steve Schiffman

The story seems a bit suspicious. Is the FBI saying that major corporations such as Visa, NASDAQ, J.C. Penney, and JetBlue do not have sufficient protection over their own computers? That it took over 7 years for auditors, etc to realize they were being ripped off? That card holders never notified them of the illegal purchase or cash advance?

I notice that the FBI, etc., never indicated - in this article -- whether inside corruption was a factor? or that the police in some jurisdictions ignored or were paid-off during such activities? It seems that much more is not being revealed; making a half a loaf worth nothing in determining the facts needed to be disclosed in a transparent fashion.

Lastly, based on the numbers, the scam may have only included a few big ticket items; with most of the spending being done for under $5.00 per credit card over a seven year period.

July 27 2013 at 9:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

These guys should go straight to the electric chair!

July 27 2013 at 5:38 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Stephen's comment
Steve Schiffman

Over a nominal $5.00 loss per person - spread over 7 years? Are you really serious? Look at the numbers and see if I am wrong!

July 27 2013 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We shouldn't have to take "proactive steps" the card issurer should be taking "proactive steps" first being get their computers off of the net.

July 27 2013 at 3:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply