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Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Vietnamese National Sentenced To 13 Years In Prison For Operating A Massive International Hacking And Identity Theft Scheme
The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
A Vietnamese national was sentenced to 13 years in prison for hacking into U.S. businesses’ computers, stealing personally identifiably information (PII), and selling to other cybercriminals his fraudulently-obtained access to PII belonging to approximately 200 million U.S. citizens.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Donald Feith of the District of New Hampshire and Director Joseph P. Clancy of the U.S. Secret Service made the announcement.
Hieu Minh Ngo, 25, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Paul J. Barbadoro of the District of New Hampshire. Ngo previously pleaded guilty to federal charges brought in the District of New Hampshire and the District of New Jersey, including wire fraud, identity fraud, access device fraud and four counts of computer fraud and abuse.
“From his home in Vietnam, Ngo used Internet marketplaces to offer for sale millions of stolen identities of U.S. citizens to more than a thousand cyber criminals scattered throughout the world,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Criminals buy and sell stolen identity information because they see it as a low-risk, high-reward proposition. Identifying and prosecuting cybercriminals like Ngo is one of the ways we're working to change that cost-benefit analysis.”
“This case demonstrates that identity theft is a worldwide threat that has the potential to touch every one of us,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Feith. “I want to acknowledge the excellent work of the United States Secret Service in identifying and capturing Mr. Ngo. This case proves that the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire will work with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute identity thieves, even if they are halfway around the world.”
“The sentencing of this transnational cybercriminal illustrates another example of Secret Service success in the disruption and dismantling of global criminal networks,” said Director Clancy. “This investigation and the resulting prosecution and sentencing should serve as a warning to criminals that we will relentlessly investigate, detect, and defend the Nation’s financial infrastructure. This sentencing joins a long list of successes in combating financial crimes over our 150 year history.”
According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, from 2007 to 2013, Ngo operated online marketplaces from his home in Vietnam, including “superget.info” and “findget.me,” to sell packages of stolen PII. These packages, known as “fullz,” typically included a person’s name, date of birth, social security number, bank account number and bank routing number. Ngo also admitted to acquiring and offering for sale stolen payment card data, which typically included the victim’s payment card number, expiration date, CVV number, name, address and phone number. Ngo admitted that he obtained some of the stolen PII by hacking into a New Jersey-based business and stealing customer information.
In addition to selling the “fullz,” Ngo admitted to offering buyers the ability to query online databases for the stolen PII of specific individuals. Specifically, Ngo admitted that he offered access to PII for 200 million U.S. citizens, and that more than 1,300 customers from around the world conducted more than three million “queries” through the third-party databases maintained on his websites.
Ngo made nearly $2 million from his scheme. The Internal Revenue Service has confirmed that 13,673 U.S. citizens, whose stolen PII was sold on Ngo’s websites, have been victimized through the filing of $65 million in fraudulent individual income tax returns.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service’s Manchester Resident Office. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold H. Huftalen of the District of New Hampshire.
The case out of the District of New Jersey was investigated by the FBI, and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey.
Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime. He has written extensively about organized crime, street crime, sex crime, cyber crime, drug crime, white collar crime, crime fiction, crime prevention, espionage and terrorism. He is a regular contributor to the Washington Times and Counterterrorism magazine. His work has also appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and other newspapers, magazines and online publications. He has attended police academy training, gone out on patrol with police officers, accompanied detectives as they worked cases, accompanied narcotics officers on drug raids, observed criminal court proceedings and visited jails and prisons. He has covered street riots, mob wars and murder investigations. Paul Davis' "Crime Beat" column covers crime in both fact and fiction. His online column offers his Q&As with cops, crooks and crime writers. Paul Davis has been a student of crime since he was a 12-year-old aspiring writer growing up in South Philadelphia. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 17 in 1970 and served on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War. He also served two years on the Navy harbor tugboat USS Saugus at the U.S. nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland. He went on to perform security work as a Defense Department civilian employee and he later became a writer. You can read Paul Davis' Crime Beat columns, crime fiction and magazine and newspaper pieces on this website. You can also read his full bio by clicking on the above photo.