Albert Gonzales – the infamous “TJX hacker” – was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison, after being found guilty of organizing a gang of cyber thieves that managed to get their hands on something over 90 million debit and credit card numbers form TJX and various retailers.
His claim that he did it all because he was curious about the technology and because he is obsesses with conquering computer networks didn’t carry much weight with the judge, who gave more credence to the chat logs that prove his goal was $15 million and an early retirement. Seeking to get the minimum sentence possible (15 years), he also claimed he had Asperger’s syndrome and suffered from a computer addiction (which was disproved by a psychiatrist), and pointed out his cooperation during the investigation and the trial.
Wired reports that he also tried to dispute the $200 million in losses that companies and banks incurred because of the theft of the cards, claiming that some of the cost can be attributed to TJX’ negligence.
During the trial it was discovered that during the three years he ran this criminal operation, he was also on the payroll of the US Secret Service – he was receiving $75,000 a year for being an undercover informant.
Upon his arrest, the authorities took possession of $1.1 million in cash he had hidden, his Miami condo, a 2006 BMW, some jewelry and Rolex watches, a gun and a currency counter.
Gonzales is waiting to be sentenced today on a similar, equally high-profile data breach case that involved stolen card numbers from Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven and other retailer. The sentence will be somewhere in between 17 and 25 years, but luckily for him – he will be serving them simultaneously.