The Leon County Sheriff's Office, the Tallahassee Police Department, and the U.S. Secret Service announced the arrest of Tony Acreus, Jeremy Frazier, and Timothy Johns. They said that the three men had been using stolen credit cards numbers electronically written onto Visa Gift Cards to purchase over $100,000 in goods at local Wal-Mart stores. Those goods were allegedly sold for cash.
The law enforcement groups allege that the credit cards used "were stolen in an international computer hijacking of records from the Heartland Processing Center in New Jersey."
"This cooperative investigation between local and federal law enforcement has effectively shut down a complex and far-reaching criminal enterprise," said Sheriff Larry Campbell in a statement. "We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to take these criminals off our streets."
A spokesperson for the Leon Country Sheriff's Office said he couldn't provide any information about whether any of the three individuals arrested played a role in penetrating Heartland's network. He said that the investigation is open and still active.
Heartland Payment Systems, a leading payment processing company, said last month that its network had been compromised by malware in 2008. The Princeton, N.J.-based company, which handles about 100 million transactions per month, hasn't disclosed the number of accounts exposed by the security breach. But assuming a multimonth exposure period, the breach has the potential to be the one of the largest on record, if not the largest.
A spokesperson for Heartland Payment Systems said the company was delighted to see progress being made in the case but was unable to provide any information about whether or not any of those arrested were involved in the actual breach last year.
The company also doesn't have any information to provide about how many accounts were compromised or about the duration of the breach. The spokesperson said he expected that the company would provide that information at a later stage in its investigation of the incident.
Since the breach was first reported, at least 15 civil lawsuits have been filed against the company by affected individuals and banks.
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