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European reaction to identity theft case

Stephen Beard Aug 18, 2009
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European reaction to identity theft case

Stephen Beard Aug 18, 2009
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Bill Radke: Federal prosecutors have charged three men with the biggest identity theft in history. One of them has been named — Albert Gonzales of Miami is accused of stealing more than 130 million credit and debit card numbers. This alleged theft was on an international scale. Joining us from London is correspondent Stephen Beard. Good morning.

Stephen Beard: Good morning, Bill.

Radke: How do you hack 130 million credit card numbers?

Beard: With difficulty, one would imagine. It’s claimed in this case that Gonzalez, 28-year-old from Florida, and two other unnamed accomplices hacked into Heartland Payment Systems, that’s a U.S. company that processes credit card payments for thousands of firms. The hackers are accused of planting sophisticated software in Heartland’s servers, which intersected cardholders’ details as they were making payments.

Radke: So this crime was allegedly committed in the U.S., but it seems to extend across the Atlantic?

Beard: It does seem the case. Two of Gonzalez’s accomplices are claimed to be operating in Russia or near Russia. And of course, potentially, there are a lot European victims. Some analysts here say some 30 million cardholders in the U.K. alone may have had their details stolen, and many millions more elsewhere in Europe could also be in trouble.

Radke: And what’s some of the interesting reaction over there this morning?

Beard: Well it’s been fairly muted so far. I think it’s just sinking in. There’s always the feeling here in Europe that European cardholders are less vulnerable because of the technology that is used in most European cards, which is unlike the sort of magnetic stripe that the Americans use. But we’ll have to wait and see until this trial eventually begins and the details emerge. We’ll find out how secure European cards have really been.

Radke: Correspondent Stephen Beard joining us from London. Thank you.

Beard: OK Bill.

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