The FBI has arrested 11 people in the case of the largest identity theft and data breach in history that targeted TJX and other companies. The suspects of which three are US citizens are believed to have taken part in the theft of over 40 million credit and debit card accounts from 9 major retailers and restaurants. Stealing that much data was possible after installing malicious software on the systems of TJX Companies, BJ’s Wholesale Club, OfficeMax, Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority, Forever 21, DSW, Dave & Busters and Boston Market.
Never surpassed in the time it has passed has been covered constantly by the media. The Reigster tells the story of the breach in a recent article: in the beginning of 2007, TJX first reported the a breach by unknown idividuals who had at the time stolen 46.5 million credit cards, number later proved to be twice as high. According to the Register, the fraud have been going on for quite a while when TJX reported it, as a year earlier industry watchers had noticed an unusual increse in debit card fraud at retailers OfficeMax and Sam’s Club.
US Attorney of Massachussets and the US Attorney General had both commented on the issue:
“While technology has made our lives much easier it has also created new vulnerabilities,” Michael J. Sullivan, US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said in a statement announcing the indictments. “This case clearly shows how strokes on a keyboard with a criminal purpose can have costly results.”
“They used sophisticated computer hacking techniques, breaching security systems and installing programs that gathered enormous quantities of personal financial data, which they then allegedly sold to others or used themselves,” US Attorney General Michael Mukasey said in prepared remarks. “And in total, they caused widespread losses by banks, retailers, and consumers.”
Other than having a sophisticated and high end technique of stealing the information, the ring of thieves also had multiple way to turn the theft into profit, either by selling the data to other criminals or by using it to create fake cards and withdraw thousands of dollars at a time.
The eleven arrested individuals are from the United States, Estonia, Ukraine, the People’s Republic of China and Belarus. The FBI is still in pursuit of another member of the group who is only known by his online alias and continues to elude authorities. Let’s hope he’s caught soon enough!