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Accused credit card hacker lived large in Miami

Industry analysts marveled at the scope of the operation — which Gonzalez allegedly dubbed “Get Rich or Die Tryin’.” One compared it to a hackers’ version of the 1980s gangster movie “Scarface.”

The home where accused hacker Albert Gonzalez grew up in is seen in Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009 in southwest Miami. Gonzalez has been charged with hacking into business computer networks and stealing credit and debit card accounts.

J Pat Carter/AP

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Nestled near a row of sultry, silvery-green palm trees and an infinity pool, room 1508 at the National Hotel on South Beach is a portrait of Art Deco luxury. It is also where, on May 7, 2008, federal agents seized two computers, $22,000 in cash and a Glock 9 gun from a man known on the Internet as “soupnazi.”

His real name is Albert Gonzalez, and he was with his girlfriend when federal agents arrived. Just as the setting was not run-of-the-mill, neither was the arrest. Gonzalez was charged with hacking into business computer networks and stealing credit and debit card accounts — and in an embarrassing twist, he had once been an informant for the U.S. Secret Service.

This week, Gonzalez, 28, was indicted in New Jersey on more federal charges. Now the biggest credit card hacks of the decade — totaling 170 million accounts — have been pinned on Gonzalez.

Industry analysts marveled at the scope of the operation — which Gonzalez allegedly dubbed “Get Rich or Die Tryin’.” One compared it to a hackers’ version of the 1980s gangster movie “Scarface.”

“Albert Gonzalez is definitely the Tony Montana of credit card theft,” said Sean Arries, a computer security expert at the Miami-based Internet technology company Terremark.

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