By Kim Zetter
March 22, 2010
Convicted TJX hacker Albert Gonzalez earned $75,000 a year working
undercover for the U.S. Secret Service, informing on bank card thieves
before he was arrested in 2008 for running his own multimillion-dollar
The information comes from one of Gonzalez.s best friends and convicted
accomplices, Stephen Watt. Watt pleaded guilty last year to creating a
sniffer program that Gonzalez used to siphon millions of credit and
debit card numbers from the TJX corporate network while he was working
undercover for the government.
Watt told Threat Level that Gonzalez was paid in cash, which is
generally done to protect someone's status as a confidential informant.
The Secret Service said it would not comment on payments made to
informants. Gonzalez's attorney did not respond to a call for comment.
"It's a significant amount of money to pay an informant but it's not an
outrageous amount to pay if the guy was working full time and delivering
good results," says former federal prosecutor Mark Rasch. "It's probably
the only thing he was doing - other than hacking into TJX and making
millions of dollars."
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