Theft of 44K credit cards is tip of the iceberg, police say

A well-known international hacker was caught on the lam in Romania and brought to U.S. federal court for allegedly stealing 44,000 credit card numbers.

In an international hacking case, a Dutch man appeared in U.S. federal court today and pled not guilty to stealing at least 44,000 credit card numbers, according to the Associated Press.

Apparently, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

David Benjamin Schrooten, aka "Fortezza," is being targeted by federal prosecutors for allegedly hacking into computers and stealing massive amounts of credit card numbers. Once he obtained the numbers, he allegedly sold them in bulk quantities via different Web sites. The 44,000 is reportedly from just one sale.

Police caught onto Schrooten's alleged heist last November after a Seattle restaurant owner contacted the police. According to the Associated Press, several customers who ate at the restaurant got suspicious charges on their cards. Some were even getting charged $70 to $80 in as little as 10 minutes after using their cards at the restaurant.

Local and federal authorities eventually caught onto the trail of one of Schrooten's alleged partners, Christopher A. Schroebel, 21, who was living in Maryland. According to the Associated Press, Schroebel put spying malware in the sales systems of dozens of business. Investigators said that the two alleged hackers worked together to create Web sites to sell the credit card numbers.

Schroebel was arrested in November and pled guilty to federal charges last month. His sentence is not yet set.

As for Schrooten, who is also 21, he was arrested in Romania and landed in Seattle on Saturday to attend his hearing in court today. He is being charged with access device fraud, identity theft, and 12 other federal counts. Police told the Associated Press that the investigation into Schrooten's cybercrime ring is ongoing.

"People think that cyber criminals cannot be found or apprehended. Today we know that's not true. You cannot hide in cyberspace," U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said at a news conference, according to the Associated Press. "We will find you. We will charge you. We will extradite you and we will prosecute you."

About the author

Dara Kerr, a freelance journalist based in the Bay Area, is fascinated by robots, supercomputers and Internet memes. When not writing about technology and modernity, she likes to travel to far-off countries.

 

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