How Complaints At A Restaurant In Seattle Led To Arrest Of Alleged Credit Card Hacker In Romania

They probably didn’t know it at the time, but when customers at an Italian restaurant in Seattle complained that their credit card accounts appeared to have been compromised, they were setting off a chain of events that would ultimately result in the arrest of a man in Romania believed to have stolen at least 44,000 credit card numbers.

When the restaurant owner first heard about customers who said ID thieves used their card numbers within minutes of the cards being swiped at the eatery, he assumed he had a bad apple in his barrel.

But after looking into it, he decided it wasn’t one of his employees and brought in the authorities. This investigation resulted in the 2011 arrest of a Maryland man accused of using malware to steal credit card info from dozens of businesses. That man, who entered a guilty plea last month on bank fraud charges, is believed to have stolen at least 4,800 credit card numbers before his arrest.

The man also allegedly helped another, bigger ID thief in Europe build websites that allowed him to sell his thousands of purloined numbers. He assisted the authorities in locating the man who was recently arrested in Romania and extradited to the U.S.

Yesterday, this man, a Dutch national, entered a not guilty plea on federal computer hacking charges.

“People think that cyber criminals cannot be found or apprehended. Today we know that’s not true. You cannot hide in cyberspace,” said the U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case. “We will find you. We will charge you. We will extradite you and we will prosecute you.”

Dutch man charged with stealing Wash. credit cards [SeattlePI.com]