A hacker who had once worked with the US secret service has been charged with the biggest credit card identity theft ever recorded in the US.
Albert Gonzales, 28, of Miami, and his accomplices, allegedly stole at least 130 million accounts from big retail companies.
Gonzales is accused of working with two unidentified Russian conspirators to hack into the databases of retail chains, and then selling the information around the world.
They are alleged to have stolen credit card numbers from the 7-Eleven chain of shops, the supermarket chain Hannaford, and Heartland, a New Jersey-based company that processes payments, as well as two other unnamed corporations.
The huge scale of the fraud was previously unknown. Gonzales was once employed by the US secret service to track down hackers, but he was discovered to be passing information regarding investigations to criminals.
The hackers are said to have set up a sophisticated system for hacking into and downloading credit card numbers, scouring corporate websites for security weaknesses.
Gonzales is being held in jail in New York awaiting trial for separate charges of stealing the credit identities of about 40 million people worldwide.