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Fri 8 Aug 2008 12:00 AM

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Gang charged with theft of 41 million credit card numbers

Eleven people are charged in the United States in connection with the crime.

Federal prosecutors in the US have charged eleven people in connection with stealing more than 41 million credit and debit card numbers. Focusing on major retail chains like Barnes & Noble, it's believed to be the largest hacking and identity theft ring ever exposed.

Led by Albert Gonzalez from Miami, the gang scanned wireless networks of retailers to find technical weaknesses where ‘sniffer' programs could be installed. These programs tapped into the retailers' networks for processing credit cards and intercepted customers' card information, which was then transmitted by the thieves to computers in the United States, Latvia and Ukraine.

Gonzalez was indicted recently by a federal grand jury in Boston on charges of computer fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy and other charges. If convicted on all counts, Gonzalez could spend the rest of his life in prison.

The total amount of money stolen by the ring isn't known as yet but federal officials have requested that Gonzalez be forced to forfeit more than $1.6 million, among other assets.

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