“Hacking and identity theft were a way of life for Mr. Hackett,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “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.”
“Mr. Hackett was in the business of hacking for profit and committed identity theft on a massive scale,” said U.S. Attorney 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.”
Hackett pleaded guilty on April 21, 2011. At today’s sentencing, he was also ordered to pay a $100,000 fine. According to court documents, U.S. Secret Service special 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.” These 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, totalling more than $36 million.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and prosecuted by Michael J. Stawasz, a Senior Counsel for the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.