Cyber burglar steals 485,000 credit card numbers

 The Australian, Tuesday March 21, 2000, page 1
 by "a correspondent in New York", DPA

In the largest-known case of cyber theft, a hacker stole 485,000
credit card numbers from an e-commerce site and then secretly
stored the information on a US government agency's website.

Credit card companies notified financial institutions, but
many of the compromised accounts remain open because the banks
neither closed them nor notified customers of the theft,
MSNBC television reported.

The theft occurred in January 1999, but few details had
previously been made public.

The scope of the crime emerged in a letter, dated December 27,
from Visa to member financial institutions.

Jim Macken, a Secret Service spokesman, confirmed the incident
had occurred and added some details on an interview on US television.

The Visa letter, a copy of which was leaked by a source in the
banking industry, quotes US authorities as saying the credit
card information, including expiry dates and cardholder names
and addresses, was stoled by a hacker from an internet retail site.

It said the store of data on cards including Visa, Mastercard
and American Express was discovered on an unspecified government
computer system during an audit.

The letter said authorities had not identified the theif, but MSNBC
said investigators had since traced the criminal to eastern Europe.
The investigation involves diplomatic contacts with the country in