BOSTON, Mass. Federal prosecutors in Boston today handed down one indictment and unsealed 10 others in a massive credit and debit card theft ring.
U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey joined U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Michael Sullivan in Boston to reveal the indictments Tuesday.
“As far as we know, this is the single largest and most complex identity theft case that’s ever been charged in this country” Mukasey said.
Officials say more than 40 million debit and credit card numbers were compromised.
Framingham-based TJX was the first of more than 10 major retailers to report data breaches stemming from the case as early as January of 2007. Other companies impacted include OfficeMax, Boston Market, Barnes & Noble, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Sports Authority, Forever 21 and DSW.
Authorities say they hope to have victims notified within days.
Indictments have been returned by grand juries in Massachusetts, California, and New York. Three of the 11 defendants named so far are U.S. citizens. Three more are from Ukraine, two are from China, one is from Estonia and one is from Belarus.
The indictments allege the suspects hacked into retailers computer networks using a technique called “war driving.”
Sullivan said the operation was large, but not particularly sophisticated. “War driving is simply driving around in a car with a laptop computer looking for accessible wireless computer networks” Sullivan said. “I don’t think any of [the suspects] are PhD’s.”