Record-Breaking Credit Card Hacker Gets 20 Years in Jail

Dennis Faas's picture

A Miami-based hacker found guilty of stealing millions of credit card numbers has been sentenced to two decades behind bars. However, the Boston US District Court judge who sentenced him opted not to commit Albert Gonzalez to more jail time for his role in several major schemes.

130 Million Credit Card Numbers Stolen

We first reported on hacker Albert Gonzalez in August of last year. Back then, he had just been apprehended for an incredible heist of some 130 million credit card numbers from Heartland Payment Systems Inc., a huge U.S. credit and debit card processor.

Although it doesn't appear Gonzalez profited from cracking Heartland's system, successful hacking on other fronts allowed him to fund a $75,000 birthday party, buy a $118,000 Miami condo, and live large at his victims' expense.

Hacker Receives 20 Years in Person, Plus Fine

Thankfully, Gonzalez's luck ran out and yesterday he was sentenced to 20 years and a day, plus a $25,000 fine. Gonzalez was also sentenced for his part in schemes that included stealing credit and debit card numbers from 7-Eleven and Maine's Hannaford Brothers grocery stores.

Judge Douglas Woodcock hoped to make an example of Gonzalez, who is just 28 years old. "This is a tremendous loss, and you'll feel it," Woodcock told Gonzalez. "This is real time and is meant to deliver deterrence to others." (Source:

Judge Shows Jail Sentence Leniency

Gonzalez and defense lawyers asked for leniency in the sentence, and to some degree Woodcock complied. The judge could have sentenced Gonzalez to between 17 and 25 years, and he eventually leaned towards the lesser time period. (Source:

Part of the reason behind this leniency were convincing arguments that upheld the fact that Gonzalez did not profit from the 7-11, Heartland, or Hannaford schemes, though he did make considerable sums from other ploys.

Gonzalez's inability to profit from the three companies listed above does not make his case any less troubling. It remains a fact that he helped target a national credit and debit card processor, with staggering results.

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