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Data breach mastermind to plead guilty
BOSTON (9/1/09)--The man accused of masterminding the Heartland Payment Systems, Hannaford Bros. and TJX Cos. data breaches agreed Monday to plead guilty to 19 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges in the breaches of TJX Cos. and other retailers in 2005. Albert Gonzalez, 28, of Miami, Fla., will face 15 to 25 years in prison and forfeit more than $2.8 million in cash in the plea bargain with prosecutors in Boston (Bankinfosecurity and Computerworld Aug. 28). He will also forfeit a Miami condo, a car and jewelry. He was accused of stealing 170 million credit and debit cards in a number of breaches. The plea bargain affects charges related to TJX, Barnes and Noble and Office Max braches. The deal also includes a case in New York, where he was charged with the breach of Dave & Buster's restaurants. Data breaches against Hannaford Bros., Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven stores, J.C. Penney and Target will be treated in a separate case in New Jersey. Gonzalez and two unnamed individuals were indicted in those cases in August. According to The Boston Globe, the data thefts have cost New England companies several hundred million dollars in contending with the damages wrought by the data breaches. TJX said it spent $132 million on expenses related to the breach and set aside another $39 million to handle further claims. B.J. Wholesale Club set aside $13 million between 2004 and 2007 to handle fraud claims related to its breach. Hundreds of credit unions had to replace cards compromised in the breaches and many suffered fraudulent withdrawals on accounts.
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