Three men in Tallahassee,
Fla. were arrested last week on
fraud charges related to the massive Heartland Payment Systems data breach that
came to light in January.
Timothy Johns, Jeremy Fisher and Tony Acreus are accused of
using credit card information stolen from Heartland, a credit card processing
company, to electronically encode Visa gift cards. They used the cards to buy
goods from Wal-Mart stores in the Tallahassee
area, and then sold the purchases for cash.
The arrests are the result of a three month investigation
conducted by the U.S. Secret Service, Tallahassee Police Department and the
Leon County Sheriff’s Office. The suspects have been charged with multiple
charges of grand theft and fraud. The investigation is continuing and will
likely result in more arrests and reveal losses much higher than the $100,000
Heartland Payment Systems processes credit card payments for
more than 4 billion credit card payments for more than 250,000 businesses
nationwide. Heartland has refused to disclose the number of credit card
accounts lost to the hackers, but security experts believe the total will
probably dwarf the TJX data breach which, till now, held the dubious
distinction of being the largest data breach in history with the account information
of 45.7 million credit and debit cards stolen.
Visa and MasterCard notified Heartland of suspicious
transactions last fall, but an internal investigation conducted by Heartland
failed to find the malware installed by the hackers.