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Eleven Accused of Mass Credit & Debit Theft

BOSTON (CN) - Federal prosecutors charged 11 people with conspiracy and other crimes for allegedly hacking nine major retailers and stealing more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers. The defendants are charged with numerous crimes, including conspiracy, fraud, computer invasion and identity theft.

A grand jury in Boston indicted Albert "Segvec" Gonzalez of Miami on charges of computer fraud, wire fraud, access device fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy for his role in the scheme. The indictment claims that Gonzalez and his co-conspirators, including Miami residents Christopher Scott and Damon Patrick Toey, obtained the credit and debit card numbers by hacking into the wireless computer networks of major retailers, such as TJX Companies, BJ's Wholesale Club, Office Max, Boston Market, Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority, Forever 21 and DSW. Once inside the network, they allegedly installed "sniffer" programs that trolled for card numbers, passwords and other account information.

The indictment claims the conspirators then concealed the data in encrypted computer servers controlled in Eastern Europe and the United States. They allegedly sold some of the numbers to other criminals and "cashed out" other numbers by encoding the card numbers on the magnetic strips of blank cards and using the cards to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars from ATMs.

Gonzalez faces life in prison if convicted of all the charges in the Boston indictment.

A San Diego indictment charges Maksym "Maksik" Yastremskiy of Ukraine, Aleksandr "Jonny Hell" Suvorov" of Estonia, Hung-Ming Chiu and Zhi Zhi Wang of China, an unknown person nicknamed "Delpiero," Sergey Pavolvich of Belarus, and Dzmitry Burak and Sergey Storchak of Ukraine, of operating an international stolen credit and debit card distribution ring with operations from Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, China, the Philippines and Thailand.

"Computer hacking and identity theft pose serious risks to our commercial, personal and financial security," said Benton Campbell, a U.S. attorney in New York. "Hackers who reach into our country from abroad will find no refuge from the reach of U.S. criminal justice."

The indictments and criminal complaints are the result of the U.S. Secret Service's three-year undercover investigation.

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