The Next Criminal Hero

For years, Americans have held a deep fixation with criminals, many times transforming them into heros. Every generation seems to have their criminal heros. We can go back to the 20’s and 30’s with Bonnie & Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, Al Capone, etc… Then the 60’s brought us our first white collar crime hero – Frank Abignail, who was the subject of the movie “Catch Me if you can”.

Of course, the 70’s brought us the trio of The Godfather movies, and made the Corleone’s America’s favorite crime family. This was followed up with copy cat John Gotti.

Then in the 80’s and 90’s, Kevin Mitnick (The original computer hacker)was convicted and became the posterchild for young hackers everywhere. Much like Abignail, Mitnick turned his criminal activity into a gold mine by going on the road and telling everyone how he did it.

Now – we have our next posterchild – Albert Gonzalez who was recently arrested for the Heartland Data Systems breach. What makes this even more entertaining is that he was also arrested in the TJX data breach a few years earlier in 2003. Rather than throw him in the slammer, he instead became an informant for the Secret Service. A few short years later, he has achieved his goal of international fame and worship.

For those not in the banking industry, his compromise of Heartland created major havoc for banks everywhere. If you received a new credit or debit card in the past few months, it is likely due to the breach at Heartland. Banks were forced to investigate which cards were compromised and had to re-issue millions of cards. Thus far, this has cost Heartland over $32 MM in fines and losses.

So the next time, you get a fee increase from your bank, you might want to thank Albert. This may alter our collective opinion regarding his hero status.

In the meantime, Albert will go spend a few years behind bars thinking about his crime. More likely, he will be writing his business plan for becoming the next in a line of criminals who turned their misfortunate into a gold mine.


Date Posted: August 20, 2009 Author: Category:   IDI Blog

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