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12-Year-Old Accused in Computer Hacking for Credit Card Numbers

April 27, 1990 GMT

DETROIT (AP) _ A 12-year-old computer hacker is accused of gaining access to the computers of TRW Inc., a national company that checks customers’ credit ratings, and distributing charge card numbers to computer bulletin boards.

State police said today that authorities were preparing to submit a petition to Wayne County Probate Court to charge the youth of computer fraud and financial transaction fraud.

The boy’s computer and files were seized Thursday from his Grosse Ile home, said Lt. Tom Meekins, of the Michigan State Police Criminal Investigation Division.

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″It won’t be hard to prove,″ Meekins said. ″The records we have indicate he was deeply involved.″

Authorities talked to the boy in his home but not take him into custody or charge him, Meekins said. Federal authorities had originally said that the boy was arrested and charged, but that is incorrect, Meekins said.

Authorities were uncertain how many files were tapped, who used the credit card numbers, and what was purchased with them, said Michigan State Police Lt. Chris Hogan. But officials said TRW officials noticed the improper entry to their system and contacted authorities.

″TRW’s still trying to figure that one out,″ he said.

TRW Consumer Relations Supervisor Jean Stevens was not in her Farmington Hills office this morning to comment, her secretary said.

The Michigan Computer Crime Task Force of state and federal authorities said the boy broke through TRW security at a Detroit-area branch.

″Hacking is a common problem and is proliferating as the computer industry improves and home computers are more available,″ said U.S. Secret Service Special Agent John Britt in Detroit. ″But tapping into TRW is a new twist and pretty sophisticated.″

The boy’s mother said the family owned the computer for several years and friends of her son recently taught him how to use it. He worked on it for up to five hours every weeknight and up to 14 hours on weekends, she said.

″He didn’t bother me,″ she said. ″He sat there on his computer. Well, I figured, computers, that’s the thing of the day.″