- The Washington Times - Friday, July 22, 2011

A Georgia man was sentenced Friday in federal court in Virginia to 10 years in prison for trafficking in counterfeit credit cards and aggravated identity theft, accused of stealing 675,000 credit card numbers leading to $36 million in losses.

U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride for the Eastern District of Virginia said Rogelio Hackett Jr., 25, of Lithonia, Ga., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga in Alexandria after pleading guilty to the charges April 21. In addition to the prison term, he also was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine.

Mr. Hackett was in the business of hacking for profit and committed identity theft on a massive scale,” said Mr. MacBride. “He was a full-time identity thief who expanded his business worldwide, affecting hundreds of thousands of people, banks and merchants.

“Today’s sentence and substantial fine should serve as a strong deterrent to others who may be tempted to engage in identity theft,” he said.

According to court documents, U.S. Secret Service agents executing a search warrant in 2009 at Hackett’s home found more than 675,000 stolen credit card numbers and related information in his computers and email accounts.

Hackett admitted in a court filing that since at least 2002, he has been trafficking in credit card information he obtained either by hacking into business computer networks and downloading credit card databases, or by purchasing the information from others using the Internet through various “carding forums.” The forums are online discussion groups used by “carders” to traffic in credit card and other personal identifying information.

Hackett also admitted that he sold credit card information, manufactured and sold counterfeit plastic cards, and used the credit card information to acquire gift cards and merchandise, according to court documents. Credit card companies have identified tens of thousands of fraudulent transactions using the card numbers found in Hackett’s possession, totaling more than $36 million, the documents show.

“Hacking and identity theft were a way of life for Mr. Hackett,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who heads the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “For years, he used the Internet to steal and sell identities to further a multi-million dollar fraud.

“Identity theft has devastating effects on consumers and businesses alike, and we will continue to be aggressive in pursuing this pernicious criminal activity,” he said.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and prosecuted by Michael J. Stawasz, a senior counsel for the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.