A Miami hacker has been sentenced to 20 years in what has been seen as the toughest sentence given out to someone who robbed using a PC.
According to the Miami Herald, Albert Gonzalez masterminded the largest theft of credit cards in US history, so he expected really to have the book thrown at him.
A Boston federal court was told how he broke into the computer systems of major retailers to steal millions in card numbers.
Networks of TJX, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Dave & Buster’s and several others were targeted and netted him $200 million.
Prosecutor Stephen Heymann said that Gonzalez shook a portion of our financial system.
Gonzalez, 28, apologised as his mother, father and sister watched from the front row of the courtroom.
He told the court that he didnn’t do it for the money but because he could not put the lid on his internet addiction.
Gonzalez amassed $2.8 million he used to buy a Miami condo, a car, Rolex watches and a Tiffany ring for his girlfriend.
He would drive past retailers with a laptop computer, tapping into those with vulnerable wireless Internet signals.
They would then install ‘sniffer programs’ that picked off credit and debit card numbers as they moved through a retailer’s computers before trying to sell the numbers overseas, prosecutors said.