YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Bay Area man suspected of massive credit card, ID theft

September 12, 2007|From the Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — A man who used the Internet alias Iceman stole credit card and identity information from tens of thousands of people by hacking into the computers of financial institutions and credit card processing centers, federal authorities said Tuesday.

Max Ray Butler, 35, of San Francisco was indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on three counts of wire fraud and two counts of transferring stolen identity information. He could face as many as 40 years in prison and a $1.5-million fine if convicted on all charges.

Butler was charged in Pittsburgh because he allegedly sold more than 100 credit card numbers and related information to a Pennsylvanian who is cooperating with the investigation, said Margaret Philbin, spokeswoman for U.S. Atty. Mary Beth Buchanan of Pittsburgh.

Authorities said Butler also operated a website that served as an online forum for people who steal, share or use others' credit card information illegally in a practice known as "carding."

Butler was arrested in California on Sept. 5 on a criminal complaint filed under seal in Pittsburgh. He remains in federal custody in California. It was not immediately clear when he would return to Pittsburgh to face the charges.

A detention hearing is scheduled for Monday in San Francisco.

The indictment accuses Butler of e-mailing people about buying stolen card numbers and selling them for several hundred dollars per batch.

According to the criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday, one person told investigators he received "tens of thousands of cards" from Butler. In the affidavit, federal agents said Butler used the aliases Iceman, Aphex, Darkest and Digits on his Internet forum, in e-mails with other carders or when hacking into financial institutions.

One witness told agents that Butler had hacked into the computers of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Citibank and a government employee.

Los Angeles Times Articles