Vietnamese National Charged in Widespread International Scheme to Steal and Sell Hundreds of Thousands of U.s. Persons’ Personally Identifiable Information
A Vietnamese national has been indicted in the District of New Hampshire for allegedly participating in an international scheme to steal and sell hundreds of thousands of Americans’ personally identifiable information (PII) through various underground websites that he operated.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney John P. Kacavas of the District of New Hampshire, and Resident Agent in Charge Holly Fraumeni of the U.S. Secret Service’s Manchester Field Office made the announcement after the indictment was unsealed.
Hieu Minh Ngo, 24, a Vietnamese national, was charged in a 15-count indictment filed under seal in November 2012, charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, substantive wire fraud, conspiracy to commit identity fraud, substantive identity fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and substantive access device fraud. Ngo was arrested upon his entry into the United States in February 2013. The statutory maximum penalties are five years on the identity fraud and identity fraud conspiracy counts, two years each on the aggravated identity theft counts, 20 years on the wire fraud count and wire fraud conspiracy counts, 10 years on the substantive access device fraud count and five years on the conspiracy to commit access device fraud count.
According to the indictment, from 2007 through 2012, Ngo and other members of the conspiracy acquired, offered for sale, sold, and/or transferred to others packages of PII for more than 500,000 individuals. These packages, known as “fullz,” typically included a person’s name, date of birth, social security number, bank account number and bank routing number. During this same time, Ngo and other members of the conspiracy acquired, offered for sale, sold, and/or transferred to others stolen payment card data, which typically included the victim account holder’s payment card number, expiration date, card verification value number, account holder name, account holder address and phone number.
The indictment alleges that Ngo operated one or more online marketplaces for various carding activities, known as carder forums, where he stored and offered for sale “fullz” and other PII, including “fullz” of individuals located in the District of New Hampshire. On two carder forums, Ngo and his co-conspirators offered buyers the option to obtain a specified quantity of “fullz” or to submit a query of a particular name to obtain that person’s associated PII. Ngo and his co-conspirators allegedly offered several categories of PII, depending on how recently the data had been acquired, and charged higher prices for more recent data. Ngo allegedly made arrangements with others who, after paying a fee, could access and then and re-sell the stolen payment card data, “fullz” and other PII. Ngo and his co-conspirators created one or more accounts with a digital currency service and used those accounts to receive funds for the stolen payment card data, “fullz” and other PII that they sold.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold H. Huftalen of the District of New Hampshire.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.