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TJX credit card heist suspect, 2 others, accused of new scam

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Three men - one of them suspected of playing a role in the heist of 45.6 million credit cards from retailer TJX Companies - have been accused of hacking into cash register terminals belonging to a restaurant chain and installing software that sniffed credit card numbers.

According to a 27-count indictment unsealed Monday, the scheme was carried out in part by Maksym Yastremskiy. In July, the Ukrainian was arrested in a Turkish resort town for allegedly selling large quantities of credit card numbers, many of which were siphoned out of TJX's rather porous network. He remains incarcerated in Turkey, where an application for extradition to the US is pending. Yastremskiy also went by the name Maksik.

The indictment also names Aleksandr Suvorov, aka JonnyHell, of Estonia, and a separate complaint names Albert Gonzales, who also went by the moniker Segvec. Together, they are accused of installing packet sniffers at 11 restaurants belonging to Dave & Buster's. The sniffers captured track 2 credit card data as it passed from the restaurants' point-of-sale terminals to servers at the chain's central headquarters.

Suvorov was arrested in March by German officials while visiting that country, and an extradition request is also pending. Gonzalez was arrested this month by Secret Service agents in Miami.

One packet sniffer alone netted data for about 5,000 customers who visited a Dave & Buster's in Islandia, New York, causing losses of at least $600,000 to the banks that issued the cards, according to the indictment.

The scheme was not without its hitches. While the defendants successfully penetrated a terminal at an Arundel, Maryland, location in April 2007, their packet sniffer malfunctioned, so they were unable to gain access to any credit card data. Later versions of their program successfully logged the information, but a bug caused the software to be deactivated each time the point-of-sale servers were rebooted. That required the defendants to regularly log in to the machines.

The men managed to install the packet sniffers remotely by socially engineering individuals, according to the indictment, which didn't elaborate. Once in possession of the data, the defendants sold it to others who used it to make fraudulent credit card purchases.

Attempts to reach the three men for comment were not successful. ®

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