, SecurityFocus 2007-09-12
U.S. Secret Service agents arrested former security consultant, Max Ray Butler, in San Francisco last week, following a 16-month investigation into the online credit-counterfeiting forum, CardersMarket, the U.S. Attorneys Office in Pittsburgh said on Tuesday.
In a five-count indictment unsealed on Tuesday, federal prosecutors allege that Butler ran a scheme to hack into computers at financial institutions and credit-card processing centers, stealing account information and selling the data to others. Butler also ran the online carders' forum, CardersMarket, under the name "Iceman" and "Aphex" as a way to coordinate illegal activities and meet people with similar interests, according to an affidavit penned by the U.S. Secret Service, which spearheaded the investigation.
The affidavit also claims that an associate of Butler -- 47-year-old Capistrano Beach, Calif., resident Christopher J. Aragon -- used some of the stolen credit-card numbers to run up fraudulent transactions and provided Butler with a cut of the proceeds. Aragon, arrested in May, told Secret Service agents that Butler provided him "tens of thousands" of stolen credit-card numbers.
"Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States," said Luke Dembosky, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, which is prosecuting the case. "Any chance we have to make an impact on ID theft activities, especially on this scale, is something that we are going to pursue aggressively."
This is the second time around for Butler, better known amongst security researchers and hackers as "Max Vision," a former security professional who created the open-source catalog of network vulnerabilities known as arachNIDS and the former administrator of the Whitehats.com security information site.
In 2000, Butler plead guilty to charges that he created an Internet worm that hacked into systems at McChord Air Force Base, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, the Argonne and Brookhaven National Labs, IDSoftware, and an unspecified Defense Department system. During that time, he had also provided information to the FBI as an informant.
In May 2001, Butler received a sentence of 18 months -- time he served at the privately-held Taft Correctional Institution in central California. Following his release from prison in October 2002, Butler could not find work but needed a job to satisfy his parole requirements. After a plea to the security community, he was hired by a Silicon Valley consultant.