Back in 2007, Time Magazine did an article on the 25 top crimes of the century. Coming in at number six was the Brinks Job, which in 1950 was the biggest theft that had ever occured in the U.S. ($2.7 million). Eleven men planned for 18 months how to pull off the robbery. They eventualy got caught, but the money was never found. They even made a movie about it. Time article. It might be time for Time to revisit “Crimes of the Century” after we got word today that the Feds (U.S. District Court of New Jersey) indicted two Russians and a Miami resident for allegedly engaging in a complex hacking scheme to steal 130 million credit card and debit numbers. Click here to read more details from a WSJ blog on the developing story.
What’s striking when reading the indictment (you can find it through the WSJ.Com site above), was the amount of time and planning that went into this alleged scheme. The man from Miami, Albert Gonzalez, and two unnamed Russian defendents, planned this theft and executed it from October 2006 through May 2008. This wasn’t some kid writing code while waiting for gym class to begin. This was well plotted (along with a fourth defendant named “P.T.” who lives in Virginia Beach but was not indicted). They would visit stores to learn more about the cash registers and the kind of systems they were on. They allegedly nailed some big ones – 7-11, Hannaford Brothers, Heartland Payment Systems (one of the world’s largest credit and debit card processors) and two unnamed major national retailers.
They set up servers in Russia, communicated by internet messaging services and wrote software to make it difficult for virus-scanning software to detect their malicious programs, according to the indictment.
We don’t know if P.T turned informant (he/she wasn’t charged). We do know that in the Brinks case, one member of the gang felt he was short changed and ratted on the others.
As more details creep out, it will no doubt lead many to feel e-commerce isn’t safe. It is. The point is – if someone wants to walk through the front door and rob a bank, they will. Fortunately, most of the time they get caught.