Computer hacker Albert Gonzalez, accused of one of the largest thefts of credit and debit card numbers ever reported, was sentenced to 20 years and a day in prison last Friday.
Friday’s case involved stolen credit card numbers from the Scarsborough, Maine-based Hannaford Bros. supermarket chain, Dallas-based convenience store chain 7-Eleven, and Heartland Payment Systems, a New Jersey-based card payment processor.
Federal Judge Douglas Woodlock ordered that Gonzalez’s the prison term run concurrently with a 20-year term he received from a different judge Thursday in another related case. Thursday’s sentence stemmed from two cases that were combined and involved major retailers including TJX Cos., BJ’s Wholesale Club, Barnes & Noble, OfficeMax, and the restaurant chain Dave & Buster’s, Top Tech News reported.
“You’re in your mid-20s. You’re going to be in your mid-40s when you get out,” the judge told Gonzalez. “That’s a tremendous loss.”
Gonzalez had pleaded guilty to stealing tens of millions of credit and debit cards numbers, costing the companies, banks and insurers nearly $200 million. In addition to his incarceration he also has been fined $25,000 by Woodlock and will be required to serve three years of supervised probation following his release from prison. He will face an additional hearing in June on what restitution he might have to pay, Top Tech News reported.
Gonzalez and two foreign co-defendants would drive past retailers with a laptop computer, tapping into those with vulnerable wireless Internet signals, according to authorities. They would then install “sniffer programs” to obtain credit and debit card numbers as they moved through a retailer’s computers before trying to sell the numbers overseas. The two co-defendants, identified in court documents as “Hacker 1” and “Hacker 2,” are reportedly fugitives.
Gonzalez was arrested for hacking in 2003, but was not charged because he became an informant, helping the Secret Service locate other hackers.