A Vietnamese hacker who took part in a scheme to sell access to the stolen personal data of 200 million U.S. citizens has been sentenced to 13 years in prison. Hieu Minh Ngo, 25, was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Paul J. Barbadoro in New Hampshire. Ngo earlier pleaded guilty to federal charges including wire fraud, identity fraud, access device fraud and four counts of computer fraud and abuse.
The Justice Department said Ngo ran a massive international hacking and identity theft scheme from his home in Vietnam. From 2007 to 2013, prosecutors alleged, he peddled stolen personal data — including names, birthdates, Social Security numbers and bank account information — on Internet marketplaces to other cybercriminals.
"Specifically, Ngo admitted that he offered access to PII (personally identifiable information) for 200 million U.S. citizens, and that more than 1,300 customers from around the world conducted more than three million ‘queries’ through the third-party databases maintained on his websites," the Justice Department said in a press release.
Ngo made nearly $2 million from his scheme, prosecutors said. Ngo was arrested when he entered the United States in February 2013.
"Criminals buy and sell stolen identity information because they see it as a low-risk, high-reward proposition," Assistant Attorney General Caldwell Leslie R. Caldwell said in a statement. "Identifying and prosecuting cybercriminals like Ngo is one of the ways we're working to change that cost-benefit analysis."