Gonzalez Psych Report Tells Of 12-Year-Old Sex and Doing 5,000 Pushups

Written by Evan Schuman
March 25th, 2010

Among the thousands of pages of filings surrounding the case of Cyberthief To The SKUs Albert Gonzalez, this week’s filings included some of the stranger new details. As for unexpected, consider the report from government psychiatrist Mark Mills, who interviewed Gonzalez for about 8 hours at a federal prison in Rhode Island.

Trying to establish that he’s social—and should therefore not get a reduced sentence because of severe computer addiction and Asperger’s Disorder—the man considered to be a hacker’s hacker was reported to have “had sexual relations with women at ages 12 and 14 and was able to hook up, largely at will, thereafter.” If we take that claim as true and literal (defining “women” as females who are at least 18 years old), isn’t that a statutory rape case?

Related Story: Gonzalez Lawyers, Judges Debate Data Breach Costs

Gonzalez also, according to the psychiatrist’s report, had a bad case of timing. He needed his girlfriend’s help with some matters in the case, but when he was arrested, he was with another woman. You’d think the Secret Service would have had the tact to be a bit more discreet. Who he was with during the arrest seems irrelevant. If the Secret Service doesn’t understand the idea of a secret, who would?

“Mr. Gonzalez described his somewhat stormy relationship with his girlfriend, Jenny,” the psychiatrist wrote. “He acknowledged that he had often treated her in a less than ideally supportive fashion, but that he really loved her and was profoundly appreciative for how she had reached out to him and his parents even after his arrest, when he was in the company of another woman.”

Another bizarre note: the psychiatrist—without comment—quoted Gonzalez about how fit he appeared. “At one point, [Gonzalez] explained that he could no longer do the 5,000 pushups he once did regularly and probably could do only 600.” Hold on a second. Didn’t the good doctor detect even a faint whiff of BS? Presumably, the claim meant “in one continuous session” or it doesn’t mean much.

The Guinness world record for pushups in an hour is 3,877; it was set in Indonesia in 1988. The Guinness world record for the most non-stop pushups is 10,507 and it was set in Japan in 1980. Are we being asked to believe that our master programmer “regularly” whipped off 5,000 pushups? Doesn’t seem to leave much time for hacking into more than a dozen major retail chains or, for that matter, hooking up largely at will.


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Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

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