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 up to 40 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine if convicted on all charges.
Butler was charged in Pittsburgh because he 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. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan of Pittsburgh.
Authorities said Butler also operated a Web site that served as an online forum for people who steal, share or use others' credit card information illegally in a practice is known as "carding."
Federal court records do not list an attorney for Butler, who was arrested in California on Sept. 5 on a criminal complaint filed under seal in Pittsburgh.
Butler 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 charges Butler with 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.
Witnesses told agents they were present as Butler moved to various hotel rooms where he would use a high-powered antenna to intercept wireless communications. From there he allegedly hacked into financial institutions and credit card processing centers to obtain confidential card information.
One witness told agents that Butler hacked into the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Citibank and a government employee's computer.
Philbin could not immediately say which kinds of credit card numbers were sold or whether authorities planned to alert cardholders of potential problems.