JC Penney, Wet Seal: Gonzalez Mystery Merchants

While major news sources rushed to report yesterday that Albert Gonzalez was sentenced yesterday to 20 years plus one day for the Heartland Payment Systems breach, a term to run concurrently with his other sentence, Brooklynne Kelly Peters and Evan Schuman of StorefrontBacktalk led with providing the answer to a question many of us had: who were the two unidentified retailers who were also hit by the hacking ring?

JCPenney and Wet Seal were both officially added to the list of retail victims of Albert Gonzalez on Friday (March 26) when U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock refused to continue their cloak of secrecy and removed the seal from their names. StorefrontBacktalk had reported last August that $17 billion JCPenney chain was one of Gonzalez’s victims, even though JCPenney’s media representatives were denying it.

Good for Judge Woodlock! The blog reports that despite the retailers’ efforts to prevent disclosure of their identities, the judge ruled in favor of disclosure:

“I’m not convinced,” Woodlock said, adding that he believed that both retailers should have announced their involvement from the start, that consumers had the right to know. He said he would not provide the companies “insulation from transparency.”

The judge stressed that the companies were seeking privacy as though they were individual victims, which he said was like “hermaphroditing a business corporation.” Back in November, an attorney for J.C. Penney asked the judge to protect its “dignity,” phrasing that might have set his Honor off.

Read more on StorefrontBacktalk.

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