Think of it as a one-man stimulus bill. If Albert Gonzalez had maxed out every credit card number he is accused of stealing - assuming a modest limit of $2,000 on each - he would have single-handedly pumped $260 billion (£160 billion) into the US economy.
Instead, the man authorities believe is responsible for the world's biggest credit and debit card theft is facing a 25-year jail term at federal penitentiary and a half-million dollar fine.
The 28-year old Miami resident was indicted today for conspiring to hack into computer networks supporting major American retail and financial organisations, and stealing data relating to more than 130 million credit and debit cards.
Who's laughing now, Seinfield joker?
In a two-count indictment alleging conspiracy and conspiracy to engage in wire fraud, Gonzalez, aka 'segvec', 'soupnazi' and 'j4guar17', is charged, along with two unnamed Russian co-conspirators, with using an SQL injection attack to exploit computer networks by finding a way around the network's firewall to steal credit and debit card information.
Among the corporate victims named in the indictment are Heartland Payment Systems, a New Jersey-based card payment processor; convenience store chain 7-Eleven; and Hannaford Brothers, a Maine-based supermarket chain.
The indictment alleges that beginning in October 2006, Gonzalez and his co-conspirators researched the credit and debit card systems used by their victims, devised an attack to penetrate their networks and steal credit and debit card data; and then sent that data to computer servers they operated in California, Illinois, Latvia, the Netherlands and Ukraine.
The indictment also alleges Gonzalez and his co-conspirators also used sophisticated techniques to cover their tracks and to avoid detection by anti-virus software used by their victims.
Gonzalez's trial is scheduled to begin in Long Island, New York, next month.
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