A Vietnamese man who ran an online identity theft services has been sentenced to 13 years in a U.S. prison.
The service run by Hieu Minh Ngo, 25, sold personal information belonging to millions of Americans and changed names frequently, according to a report from Krebs on Security, but two of the most well-known names were Superget.info and findget.me.
Ngo admitted to hacking into major information databases and was at the center of Court Ventures’ data breach in 2012, according to ComputerWorld. Court Ventures, a subsidiary of the credit monitoring service Experian, reportedly gave Ngo access to a database of personal records after he posed as a private investigator from Singapore.
Ngo was arrested in Guam in February 2013, Krebs stated, after being “lured” there by an undercover Secret Service agent who promised him more access to personal data. By then, he had been running his online identity theft service for six years and had acquired a customer base of 1,300.
Since 2007, according to the New York Daily News, Ngo had “offered access” to identifying information for more than 200 million Americans, including name, Social Security number, birth dates, and bank account information.
Ngo pleaded guilty to multiple federal charges in 2014; because he cooperated with U.S. officials after his arrest, his minimum prison sentence was lowered from 24 years to 13 years. Krebs reported that Ngo’s information allowed U.S. Marshals to catch at least 12 of his customers living in the U.S.
Ultimately Ngo was still given a harsh 13-year sentence because thousands of stolen identities were linked back to his online service. According to reports from the Justice Department and IRS, there have been 13,673 confirmed cases of Americans having their personal information sold through Ngo’s service, and $65 million worth of fraudulent income tax returns.
Ngo’s damage is only a small piece of the larger problem at hand — namely, that at least 13 million Americans had their identity stolen in 2013, and that number has continued to rise.