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Max Vision pleads guilty to running cybercrime bazaar

Iceman melts

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Notorious hacker Max Vision faces a lengthy prison sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of wire fraud involving the trafficking of around 1.8 million credit card numbers and running a clearing house for cybercrime.

Vision (aka Iceman), 36, ran an underground forum called Carders Market where carders and hackers traded in stolen credit card numbers and purloined bank login credentials, among other details. An estimated 4,500 cybercrooks traded more or less openly on the forum between 2005 and 2007, when the site was shut down and Vision's San Francisco apartment was raided.

Credit card firms reckon $86m in fraudulent purchases was made using account numbers contained on systems controlled by Vision. The hacker was arrested after becoming a prime target in a two-year FBI sting operation, during which agent J Keith Mularski infiltrated cybercrooks to such an extent that he ended up running a rival cybercrime clearing house called Dark Market.

Vision, who recently changed his name from Butler, has been held on remand since his arrest in September 2007. He faces a sentencing hearing penciled in for 4 October, where a third wire fraud count and two counts of transferring stolen identity data will be considered in sentencing, AP reports.

His lawyer said that Vision wanted to use his computer skills for good in future. Vision's plea agreement was sealed, something that sometimes happens when defendants are co-operating in an ongoing investigation, among other reasons.

Vision was previously jailed for 18 months after he was convicted of hacking into military and defense contractor computers, an aggrevating factor likely to result in a longer jail sentence than might otherwise be the case. ®

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