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Autistic hacker Albert Gonzalez, 28, used his stolen millions to finance a decadent lifestyle, even as he was serving as a U.S. Secret Service informant. Now he's received the longest cybercrime sentence in U.S. history -- 20 years in prison.  (Source: AP)
Crime doesn't pay in the end

Albert Gonzalez aka "soupnazi" was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Patti Saris to 20 years in prison for his role as a ringleader of an international group of hackers.  The sentence is the longest cybercrime sentence in U.S. history.

Gonzalez and his colleagues infiltrated corporate networks to obtain 40 million payment card numbers.  The group's targets include TJX Cos Inc, BJ's Wholesale Club Inc, and Barnes & Noble.  They used these cards to score millions in cash.  It is estimated that they caused $200M USD in financial damages worldwide.

Now 28 years old, Gonzalez was troubled since childhood.  He suffered from Asperger's disorder, a form of autism.  He abused drugs and alcohol during his time growing up in the Miami area.  He started college after graduating from high school, but end up dropping out.

All this time he was feeding his biggest addiction -- computer crime.  Describes Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann, "They would quite literally go to ATMS and take out bundles of money from victims' accounts."

Gonzalez's world began to unravel in 1998 when he was caught for the first time.  In a secret plea deal he began to work as a U.S. Secret Service informant, betraying his hacking colleagues.  However, he continued to use SQL hacking techniques to steal payment card numbers during this time and was eventually caught again in 2008.

The hacker made little attempt at concealing his ill-gotten profits, other than to bury $1M USD of them in the yard of his parent'as house.  Gonzalez purchased expensive jewelery, watches, a luxury car, and even a Tiffany ring for his girlfriend.

At the time of his apprehension, Gonzalez was reportedly living large, renting a suite at the National Hotel in South Beach, Florida.  The is known for its luxurious accommodations and its oceanfront location in the heart of the Art Deco district.  He blew $75,000 USD on a birthday party and bought real estate.  He even had the nerve to complain about having to count $343,000 USD of his stolen money by hand, after his money counter broke.

Judge Saris could have sentenced Gonzalez to up to 25 years, but was lenient due to his addictions.  Gonzalez appeared contrite in court, commenting, "I stand before you humbled by the past 22 months sober."

He says he committed the crimes "because of my inability to stop my pursuit of curiosity and addiction."

U.S. Attorney Heymann thinks he should have been handed a stiffer sentence.  He comments, "He shook a portion of our financial system.  What matters most is that teenagers and young adults not look up to Albert Gonzalez. They need to know that they will be caught. That they will be punished and that the punishment will be severe."

The prison sentence will likely grow, though, when a judge sentences him on a second set of charges for stealing 10 million+ more payment card numbers from payment card processor Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven Inc, the Hannaford chain of New England grocery stores, and others.

Due to the way criminal justice works in the U.S.,  Gonzalez could be eligible for parole before his entire sentence is served, if he behaves himself in prison.

Many of his cohorts are already serving prison sentences.  Some blame Gonzalez for coercing them into the criminal scheme.



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By namechamps on 3/26/2010 9:23:37 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
because of my inability to stop my pursuit of curiosity


Yeah I am sure the millions in ill-gotten cash has NOTHING to due with it.

He is the first criminal involved in fraud to not suffer from GREED.

What a swell guy!




By Gul Westfale on 3/26/2010 9:25:25 AM , Rating: 5
he should run for office!


By Ryanman on 3/26/2010 2:41:31 PM , Rating: 3
The stealing is easier then, cause you can just raise taxes


By Cypherdude1 on 3/26/2010 5:03:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Gonzalez's world began to unravel in 1998 when he was caught for the first time. In a secret plea deal he began to work as a U.S. Secret Service informant, betraying his hacking colleagues.
Because he was a snitch, I don't think his stay in federal prison is going to be too comfortable.


By phantom505 on 3/29/2010 8:51:59 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure his stay in "Club Fed" will be just horrible.

If you want to teach him something send him to a state pen.


By Breathless on 3/26/2010 10:27:33 AM , Rating: 3
Oh give BruceLeet a break - he's just the type of guy that would defend pedophiles and the like in court as well. It's not his fault. He just loves to make excuses for dirtbags - which is becoming all the more popular these days.


By NT78stonewobble on 3/26/2010 5:29:00 PM , Rating: 4
Theres nothing wrong with being a paedophile unless you act upon it.

Atleast I can't turn homosexual(as a preference) by a conscious choice neither can I stop liking chocolate.

I can however make a choice to NOT eat chocolate also can a paedophile choose to get help to not act upon his impulses.

Sadly too few of them does that but perhaps thats because of all this hating just for the sake of it.


By nafhan on 3/26/2010 9:47:54 AM , Rating: 5
Sometimes, I think we spend to much time worrying about why someone has done something rather than concentrating on what they did. I don't feel much sympathy for someone who's "addicted" to stealing millions of dollars regardless of how or why.
Also, the asperger's thing... Is he actually diagnosed with it, or does he just claim to have it? I'm thinking someone that functions well enough socially to coordinate a team of people probably doesn't really have asperger's.


By Ard on 3/26/2010 10:14:09 AM , Rating: 2
You'd be surprised how intelligent/capable someone with autism/Asperger's can be. It's a bit scary actually.


By gralex on 3/26/2010 10:40:49 AM , Rating: 1
Asperger's aside, I'd LOVE to know this dude's IQ...
1 in 10,000,000?


By nafhan on 3/26/2010 10:53:35 AM , Rating: 3
I was bringing attention to the social aspects of coordinating a team of people. Trouble coping with social situations is one aspect of Asperger's. People with Asperger's can be extremely good with math, computers, or music - things that require attention to detail. However, every smart guy with problems does not have Asperger's .


By adiposity on 3/26/2010 2:24:40 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
money is an addiction


Money is a concept. In some cases it's a physical object. It is not an addiction. That's retarded.


By TSS on 3/26/2010 3:38:37 PM , Rating: 2
Still you can be addicted to the concept of money.

This addiction as it is known in medical science is called "greed".


By ChoreBoy on 3/26/2010 11:40:12 AM , Rating: 2
"because of my inability to stop my pursuit of curiosity AND GREED"


Will parallels be made...
By Amiga500 on 3/26/2010 9:48:12 AM , Rating: 2
Between this and the guy McKinnon looking for evidence of UFOs?

One has obviously had an extremely large amount of personal gain (financial), the other, to my knowledge, has had none.

Will the US justice system make a distinction? (IMO it definitely should)




RE: Will parallels be made...
By seraphim1982 on 3/26/2010 10:36:26 AM , Rating: 2
Totally agree, why do you think the UK is not extraditing him yet. I'm sure he must have found some info that catches the UK's eye.....

Furthermore, the guy wasn't exorting money out of citizens, just looking for info on UFO's. IMO, stealing from citizens is a far greater crime than looking for info on UFO's. Not unless what he found is worth more than X amount of millions of dollars


RE: Will parallels be made...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/26/10, Rating: 0
RE: Will parallels be made...
By Amiga500 on 3/26/2010 1:25:25 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
And the UK isn't extraditing them because he did it against the US. If he hacked any other country, they wouldn't give it a second thought to hand him over. But despite owing it's very existence to America, and decades of being a solid ally, they have to go along with the same stupid anti-US sentiment.


What a load of pish.

Here, you want me to buy you a tinfoil hat you stupid paranoid bstard?


RE: Will parallels be made...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/26/2010 1:35:16 PM , Rating: 1
Oh please. Are you going to deny there is a huge anti American sentiment in the UK ? Look at how they treated Tony Blair, one of their own, because he backed America on Iraq.

If you can provide me one legal reason that's not biased or tainted as to why that little punk hasn't been extradited yet, I'll eat my "tin foil" hat. Until then, hit the bricks Amiga.


RE: Will parallels be made...
By nvmarino on 3/26/2010 3:14:53 PM , Rating: 3
In case you missed it there was an anti-US sentiment around the world thanks to the war on Iraq. And, oh yeah, let's not forget they were right. In my personal experience, having been to the UK and a number of other contries both during the start of the Iraq war and since Obama's election, that sentiment has changed dramatically. Curious - have you personally ever been outside of the US or is your opinion based solely on what you hear on fox news?

And you want to bitch about the UK not releasing McKinnon to the US? Uh how about us not letting India even question Headley so far, who helped orchestrate the attacks in Mumbai that killed 166? And that we made a deal with him to prevent his extradition?


RE: Will parallels be made...
By NT78stonewobble on 3/26/2010 5:33:38 PM , Rating: 2
"And, oh yeah, let's not forget they were right."

Uh ... In your oppinion...

In my sarcastic oppinion all of you opposing the iraq war should wear "baby killer" tshirts...

After all you want to ignore the 1.200.000 dead saddam was responcible for and the untold number that he and his sons would be responcible for in the future and just whine about the 50.000 - 100.000 people that died in the 2003 war. If it were even that many.


RE: Will parallels be made...
By nvmarino on 3/26/10, Rating: 0
RE: Will parallels be made...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/27/2010 2:51:09 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
we went to war claiming Iraq had WMDs.


That was just one reason from a very long list. Iraq was shooting at fighters in the no fly zone. That alone was an act of war.

Go wring the sand out of your vag somewhere else, liberal.


RE: Will parallels be made...
By nvmarino on 3/27/2010 6:21:46 AM , Rating: 2
If by liberal you mean someone who can look back at history and recognize the facts, as opposed to someone who acts like a child shoving my head up my ass continuing to deny something when the facts clearly state otherwise, then yep, that's me.

Now if by liberal you are referring to my political views well, let's see... I'm against gun control and for having troops in Afghanistan just as a few examples off the top of my head, so I'm not sure that's accurate. You see I have this thing called a brain that I like to use to make intelligent decisions. It's what makes us different from animals. You might want to give it a shot sometime - just be sure to keep a box of wet naps handy to wipe all that shit off your face when you do.


RE: Will parallels be made...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/27/2010 12:42:34 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
In case you missed it there was an anti-US sentiment around the world thanks to the war on Iraq.


And before that what was the reason ? Face facts, some people will always resent America just because we ARE America. Call it jealousy, call it what you will, but it's there and can't be denied.

quote:
UK and a number of other contries both during the start of the Iraq war and since Obama's election, that sentiment has changed dramatically.


???

Obama has INCREASED troop levels beyond the Bush Administration. Afghanistan has heated up, and we are seeing more Allied casualties than there has been in recent years. We are still in Iraq, after Obama having promised "on day 1" of his presidency we would be out. Guantanamo is also still open after his promise of closing it.

So tell me, what exactly has he done to "dramatically" change the sentiment ? Personally I think you're full of shit. Just because you want to believe something doesn't make it true.

quote:
Uh how about us not letting India even question Headley so far, who helped orchestrate the attacks in Mumbai that killed 166? And that we made a deal with him to prevent his extradition?


Funny you should bring that up. Here's more proof of Obama "dramatically" changing anti-American sentiment

Relations between India and the United States have warmed in recent years, especially after the 2008 signing of a landmark civilian nuclear deal, a key policy achievement for the George W. Bush administration. But tensions have risen recently with the Obama administration, especially over concerns that Washington is favoring Pakistan, India's arch rival, in its battle against terrorism. Among New Delhi's fears is that the United States is providing Pakistan with sophisticated weaponry that could one day be used against India.


From the Washington Post. So save your "Fox News" bashes. There's no right wing slant here pal.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic...

So I don't know why we're not letting Indian officials question Headley. Ask Mr. Hope and Change.


RE: Will parallels be made...
By nvmarino on 3/27/10, Rating: 0
RE: Will parallels be made...
By Murloc on 3/27/2010 6:16:24 AM , Rating: 2
tony blair is a betrayer, he joined a war justified with lies.
That's got nothing to do with US, in europe we don't like to exchange lives with petrol.


RE: Will parallels be made...
By just4U on 3/27/2010 11:51:09 PM , Rating: 2
I always thought Tony Blair had the right idea. Support your allies. Many within the NATO alliance just pay lip service to it all while they sit on the side lines watching a few countries, (and one in particular) do the heavy lifting.

(as a side note, I am not an American)


RE: Will parallels be made...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/28/2010 10:40:45 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
I always thought Tony Blair had the right idea. Support your allies.


Damn right. We lost hundreds of thousands of men bailing Europe out of two world wars that had NOTHING to do with us. But it's an atrocity when Blair commits a few thousand men and a few choppers to support us in Iraq ?? Give me a break !

quote:
Many within the NATO alliance just pay lip service to it all while they sit on the side lines watching a few countries, (and one in particular) do the heavy lifting.


Don't forget the UN. While lesser men actually fix problems, they write angry letters and resolutions that nobody cares if broken.


RE: Will parallels be made...
By just4U on 3/28/2010 7:35:03 PM , Rating: 2
BAH! Don't get me started on The UN. Tit's on a bull are more useful.

As a side note.. the UK is not so Anti American as some would lead any to believe. Those that whine just make the most noise. That's what I've noticed anyway on the forums, media, Canada, and the States. I am assuming it's the same over there since I know quite a few that claim that's the case.


RE: Will parallels be made...
By safcman84 on 3/29/2010 12:38:17 PM , Rating: 2
1) USA declared war on Germany because Britain declared war on Japan in WW2.

2) USA bailed UK and rest of Europe out afterwards so Commusism couldnt take hold in West-European countries. If we had been left in economic hard-ship communist parties would of been in power in all of Europe.

3) USA financial help wasnt given for free. We had to give you the patent for the Jet Engine, which is now a billion dollar industry, amongst other things.

4) Your country might not exist now if France hadnt declared war on us to support your war for independance.

5) We supported you in the 1st Iraq war, where G.W Bush senior didnt have the balls to take down the Iraq Government. A war where there was REAL legitimate reasons to do so.


RE: Will parallels be made...
By just4U on 3/29/2010 10:13:09 PM , Rating: 2
safcman84..

The "whole allied force" got cold feet in the first Iraq war after press started talking about the casualties. Pressure mounted on the home front to end it (regardless of where your homefront was/is) A stupid mistake by all the countries involved as it cost the lives of many as well as built a foundation of distrust among factions in the Middle East that could/should be onside with us.

People might keep their eyes closed on this but at some point or another the west was going back to Iraq. Questions of WHY, or WHEN don't really matter since if we had collectively had the stomach for it in the first war then none of this would be a issue.

On your second point.. I don't think anyone really "bailed" anyone out. It was a joint effort, and thankfully Germany made some key mistakes or we'd probably all be living in a very different world right now.


RE: Will parallels be made...
By safcman84 on 3/30/2010 4:58:47 AM , Rating: 2
just4u,

My second point is about the economy after we defeated the Germans (all allied forces). UK, France and West-Germany's economy were ruined, and the USA gave us a lot of help.

Anyway, I was having a go at the ignorant arrogant turd Reclaimer77, and other Americans on this forum who come out with comments like:
1) Europe wouldnt exist without the USA help in the WWs, and that they helped us out of pure generosity and had zero self-interest at heart. (blatantly untrue, USA had LOTS of reason to help us - UK declaring war on Japan one of them).
2) NATO is a load of bull, because it didnt declare war on Iraq - therefore forgetting the fact that NATO is a defensive alliance, in case a country attacks a member state. USA declared war on Iraq, therefore it is up to NATO member states discretion whether to help them or not; they are not politically nor morally obliged to help USA out unless it was Iraq who declared war on the USA.
3) Who think USA is some kind of godly country, which never makes mistakes, and that the entire world would cease to exist if it was ever found to be fallible.
4) who think anyone who doesnt agree with the Republican way of thinking is an evil-doer, socialist, communist, even worse, a liberal.

I could go on, but I won't.


RE: Will parallels be made...
By just4U on 3/31/2010 6:18:01 PM , Rating: 2
We all know America makes mistakes. We all also know that it is highly criticized because of the role it plays in World affairs. I think overall Americans take a defensive stance (online) when others are really going at them on key decisions made in the past eight or so years. Afterall, there are alot of dickheads out there. That's why you see people like Reclaimer hitting the No Nonsence button.. (hah to put it politely) As they know making certain remarks are going to hit nerve.

I live in Canada so being so close to the States and not being so very different from them you can kinda see things from their point of view as well as they Europeans... Atleast I think I can anyway, and overall I am not unhappy about the choices they have made.


RE: Will parallels be made...
By theapparition on 3/26/2010 11:12:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Furthermore, the guy wasn't exorting money out of citizens, just looking for info on UFO's.

Please, that's just what he said. Anyone can try to rationalize why they did something, but the fact remains, a crime was committed and he needs to be sentenced for it.

I have no doubt that if had stumbled upon some juicy top secret info (non-UFO related), it would have been on the market to the highest bidder.


I'm still waiting for...
By digitalreflex on 3/26/2010 11:04:59 AM , Rating: 2
I'm still waiting for the "But, he was turning his life around...He's a good person..."




RE: I'm still waiting for...
By tmouse on 3/26/2010 11:31:12 AM , Rating: 2
I guess now he will have to make sure his ports are properly firewalled.


RE: I'm still waiting for...
By bodar on 3/26/2010 7:34:34 PM , Rating: 2
Gives new meaning to "distributed denial of service attack", eh?


Wtf lol
By th3pwn3r on 3/26/2010 12:40:53 PM , Rating: 2
"Judge Saris could have sentenced Gonzalez to up to 25 years, but was lenient due to his addictions."

Alright, so my advice to any potential criminal would be to create or have some addictions to earn a lighter sentence. Wow.




RE: Wtf lol
By peldor on 3/26/2010 12:48:18 PM , Rating: 2
Considering the addictions also likely make them easier to catch, it really is win-win for both the criminal and the system.


there are bigger thieves around
By gorehound on 3/26/2010 5:13:44 PM , Rating: 4
RIAA, MPAA, Hollywood.
How many millions have they stole pricefixing things,ripping off artists,etc.




By baronsamedi1969 on 3/26/2010 2:20:52 PM , Rating: 3
Embittered self-righteous computer nerds express outrage/jealousy/anger on tech site.

More news at 11.




By dijuremo on 3/26/2010 12:44:22 PM , Rating: 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYLWGTXJAyU

Although a different criminal profession, the video in youtube is far more impressive (skip to about 36 seconds). If I could just have one of those pieces of luggage filled with copies of Benjamin...




By sapiens74 on 3/26/2010 1:25:55 PM , Rating: 2
This generation is so soft.....

:)




Drug supporter
By Kary on 3/26/2010 5:22:59 PM , Rating: 2
"I have Asperger's syndrome and a drug addiction, can I get a shorter sentence?"
Judge: "Hmmmm, let's see. (from Wiki) Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, and people with it therefore show significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. (from Wiki) Sounds like you would actually fit in better in prison really. Ahh, and you were supporting drug dealers, thank you for mentioning that as that adds more charges we can keep you in jail for."

The disease aside, admitting to other crimes should NOT entitle you to less jail time.




"Crime doesn't pay in the end"
By OblivionMage on 3/26/2010 5:40:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Crime doesn't pay in the end

lol




Is it just me...
By XtremeM3 on 3/29/2010 12:03:46 AM , Rating: 2
Or does he look just like Dexter....




Couldn't happen to a nicer guy
By Beenthere on 3/26/2010 11:27:40 AM , Rating: 1
Maybe he and McKinnon can be cellmates for the next 30 years?




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