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Mastermind Admits to Theft of 130 Million Card Accounts

by on January 31, 2010

Mastermind Admits to Theft of 130 Million Card AccountsWhatever the number you have, I bet is isn’t as many as Albert Gomez.  The Miami man admitted to stealing 40 million credit and debit card records last September.  He now faces 17 – 25 years in prison for pleading guilty on a second charge.

Scheduled to appear in court, Mr. Gomez faces charges on 130 million stolen credit and debit card accounts.  The card information was gleaned from Payment Systems Inc., 7-Eleven Inc., Delhaize Groups Hannaford Brothers Co. and two other national retailers.

Gomez admitted that he was the mastermind behind the international computer hacking ring that stole credit card and debit card financial information from several major US retailers including TJX Cos., OfficeMax Inc., and BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc.  He and his group broke into and stole numbers and financial information from the retailers computer networks.

The 28-year-old plead guilty to 20 counts of identity theft, computer and wire fraud.  Gonzalez’s attorneys are asking for leniency because they claim that Gonzalez suffers from Aspergers syndrome, a mild form of autism.

One trait of Asperger’s syndrome is obsessing over a certain subject.  In this case it would be an obsession to other people’s identity and credit cards. However, the attorneys are claiming that Gonzalez has an internet addiction.

Other Fraudsters

Computer hackers have been busy in Anchorage.  They have been identified stealing debit and credit card information from 150 residents.  One hundred and fifty residents have been confirmed and police estimate the tally may be estimated as 1,000.  These accounts can be used to buy products which in turn can be sold for cold hard cash.

The selling of these account numbers is big business and the Anchorage numbers could be sold to residents across U.S.  One victim had the card information stolen and then it was cloned.  It turned up with charges on it in Georgia.  Another person’s account was completely wiped clean before realizing the security breach.

The holiday season is targeted as a prime time for stealing card information because people use their cards so often the extra transactions are hidden in the Christmas buying bonanza.  Because of this, fraudsters can keep charging the cards longer and charge more items before getting caught.

It is thought that the information breach was from inside the computer as a result of the system being ‘hacked’.

How to Protect Yourself

The BostonHerald.com reports that in Massachusetts, during the past two years, the Office of Consumer Affairs have had 807 data breaches.  At risk is the personal information and credit card data relating to 1.05 million residents.  Some of these are a result of criminal acts and some are as a result of poor handling of the information from employees.

The biggest hurdle for consumers is to keep their information safe and up to date and keep up with the technology as quickly as the fraudsters do.  Keeping a security breach from happening is difficult but consumers should check the status of their account online if possible, regularly.

Banks are now keeping an eye on things as well.  Inconsistent use and unusual transactions are red flagged by banks and stops can be issued by the bank or card holder.  For example if there is a transaction in Anchorage at 7pm and then suddenly a transaction in New York at 7:03 the bank may highlight this as an unusual transaction.

Keeping your card safe at all times and avoiding the skimmers and scammers is a full time job for card holders.

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