Largest Data-Breach Scheme in U.S.

August 15th, 2013

Five hackers were charged in the largest hacking scheme ever in U.S. history. It was a break-in to computers of retail chains that included 7-Eleven Inc. and Carrefour SA (CA), said the French retailer.

This hacking scheme targeted the Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NDAQ) and 800,000 bank accounts at Citigroup Inc. (C) and PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney in New Jersey said “In this worldwide scheme that targeted major corporate networks, the hackers stole more than 160 million credit card numbers and resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses”.

He further commented “this type of crime is the cutting edge. Those who have the expertise and the inclination to break into our computer networks threaten our economic well-being, our privacy and our national security.”

“Sniffer” programs were used to steal credit card information, by targeting companies that processed financial transactions and retailers that received and transmitted financial data.

According to an indictment unsealed in federal court in New Jersey, “The five men operated ‘a prolific hacking organization’ that penetrated the secure computer networks of several of the largest payment-processing companies, retailers and financial institutions in the world”.


The data stolen by the hackers, known as “dump”, was sold to “dumps resellers”, who then sold it to organizations or individuals through online forums.

The men encoded the data into the magnetic strips of blank plastic cards and withdrew money from automated teller machines and made credit-card purchases, the U.S. said.

“Financial institutions, credit card companies and consumers suffered hundreds of millions in losses, including losses in excess of $300 million by just three of the corporate victims, and immeasurable losses to identity-theft victims,” according to the indictment.

The hackers used the stolen data to create ATM cards, which were used to withdraw $2.9 million from Citibank accounts. Back in 2008, Citibank’s online banking website was attacked by use of a computer program, it resulted in the theft of account information of more than 300,000 accounts. That data was also stolen to create ATM cards and it led to theft of $3.6 million.

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