US prosecutors have charged a man with stealing data relating to 130 million credit and debit cards. Officials say it is the biggest case of identity theft in American history.
They say Albert Gonzales, 28, and two unnamed Russian co-conspirators hacked into the payment systems of retailers, including the 7-Eleven chain.
Prosecutors say they aimed to sell the data on. If convicted, Mr Gonzales faces up to 20 years in jail for wire fraud and five years for conspiracy. He would also have to pay a fine of $250,000 (£150,000) for each of the two charges.
Gonzales used a complicated technique known as an “SQL injection attack” to penetrate networks’ firewalls and steal information, the US Department of Justice said.
According to the indictment, the group researched the credit and debit card systems used by their victims, attacked their networks and sent the data to computer servers they operated in California, Illinois, Latvia, the Netherlands and Ukraine. The data could then be sold on, enabling others to make fraudulent purchases, it said.
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