By Dan Goodin in San Francisco
5th November 2008
A New York man has been charged with aiding the alleged leader of the
hacking gang accused of stealing more than 40 million credit and debit
card numbers from stores owned by TJX Companies and other companies.
Federal prosecutors in Boston accused Stephen Watt, 25, of modifying a
sniffer program for Albert Gonzalez, who was indicted earlier this year
as the ring leader of a group that broke into networks used by TJ Maxx,
BJ's Wholesale Club, OfficeMax, Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority,
Forever 21, and DSW. As recently as January, Watt "edited the 'blabla'
sniffer utilized by the conspirators" and was stored on a server in
Latvia, federal charging papers allege.
Watt is charged with a single count of conspiracy and faces a maximum
sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Gonzalez, who has pleaded not guilty, had already been arrested in 2003
for access device fraud in 2003. During the more recent investigation,
Gonzalez was working as a confidential informant for the Secret Service,
but federal officials say they were unaware he was criminally involved
in the case.
According to prosecutors, Gonzalez oversaw a criminal enterprise that
carried out some of the biggest identity thefts in US history. Breaches
into TJ Maxx and other stores owned by TJX are believed to have netted
personal information belonging to more than 45 million people.
Visit the InfoSec News Security Bookstore
Best Selling Security Books and More!