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Charges Filed in International Credit Card Fraud Ring

Posted On: August 13, 2008 by Marc Neff

The United States Department of Justice has charged eleven people in connection with an international credit card fraud ring; three U.S. citizens, including an informant for the United States Secret Service, and the rest citizens of Estonia, Ukraine, Belarus, and China. This hacking and identity theft case is said to be the largest of its kind to ever be prosecuted by the Department of Justice. The defendants allegedly hacked into the wireless computer networks of TJX Cos., BJ’s Wholesale Club, Office Max, Boston Market, Barnes and Noble, Sports Authority, Forever 21, and DSW, where they would set up programs to capture and save customer credit and debit card numbers.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey said that the total dollar amount of the theft is “impossible to quantify at this point.” However, authorities have discovered two servers in the Ukraine and Latvia where 25 million and 16 million card numbers were stored, respectively. The data breach was initially discovered and disclosed by TJX in January of 2007, but it is believed that the fraud began in July of 2005. Visa and MasterCard have pledged support of nearly $65 million combined to help cover losses to banks and retailers due to the fraud.

According to the indictment, the ring operated mostly in Eastern Europe, the Philippines, China, and Thailand, with the alleged foreign conspirators remaining outside the United States. One of the U.S. citizens involved was an informant for the United States Secret Service, who would help uncover similar scams; however it is now known that the informant was likely divulging information to other criminals as well. The informant, Albert “Segvec” Gonzalez of Miami, is alleged to be the ringleader of the credit card fraud ring, and has been charged with computer fraud, wire fraud, access device fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy. He remains in custody in New York, facing life imprisonment if convicted on all the charges. Extradition proceedings have begun in the cases of the foreign conspirators allegedly involved in the ring; some of whom are already in custody abroad for other offenses. Some of the alleged participants remain at large.

International Criminal Law and Extradition

Extradition is the official process by which one nation or state requests and obtains from another nation or state the surrender of a suspected or convicted criminal. Extradition between nations is governed by treaties, and varies between nations. In general, a nation requesting extradition must show that the relevant crime is sufficiently serious, there is a good case against the individual sought, the event in question constitutes a crime in both countries, a reasonable expectation of fair trial exists in the requesting country, and that the likely penalty will be proportionate to the crime.

The Law Offices of Marc Neff has extensive experience in dealing with these types of matters. We retain experts in the fields of immigration and international law, as well as certified interpreters in nearly every language and dialect. For a confidential consultation, contact Marc Neff via phone at (215) 563-9800 or via email at Marc@nefflawoffices.com.

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