NEW YORK — The Justice Department said Tuesday it has charged 11 people in connection with the hacking of nine major U.S. retailers and the theft and sale of more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers.
It is thought to be the largest hacking and identity theft case ever prosecuted by the department. The charges include conspiracy, computer intrusion, fraud and identity theft.
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The indictment returned Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Boston alleges that those facing charges hacked into wireless computer networks of retailers such as TJX Cos, BJ's Wholesale Club, OfficeMax, Boston Market, Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority, Forever 21 and DSW.
The indictment says the hackers installed programs to capture card numbers, passwords and account information, and then concealed the data in computer servers that they controlled in the United States and Eastern Europe.
Three of the defendants are U.S. citizens, one is from Estonia, three are from Ukraine, two are from China and one is from Belarus. One individual is known only by an alias online, and his or her place of origin is unknown.