By Brad Stone
International Herald Tribune
August 12, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO: Investigators looking into a vast international credit
card theft ring extending from Ukraine and Belarus to China and
victimizing nine of the largest U.S. retailers faced a central mystery:
Who was orchestrating the crimes on the ground in the United States?
It turned out, investigators now say, that he was right under their
noses. And it was a reference to a character in the popular U.S. comedy
"Seinfeld" - the Soup Nazi - that helped break the case.
Albert Gonzalez, 27, a second-generation Cuban-American from Miami, was
a seemingly reformed hacker turned U.S. Secret Service informant,
helping agents identify his former cohorts in the shady online
underworld where stolen credit and debit card numbers are bought and
But using of variety of online handles, including "soupnazi," Gonzalez
remained a significant player in that underworld, investigators say.
U.S. government officials allege that Gonzalez played a central role in
a loosely organized online crime syndicate that fraudulently obtained
the credit and debit card numbers of tens of millions of American
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