LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A Phoenix man has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for his role in what authorities say is an unprecedented criminal case involving an international cybercrime syndicate with hundreds of thousands of U.S. victims.
A federal judge in Las Vegas imposed the sentence Thursday on David Camez, 22, who already is serving a seven-year term in Arizona for similar crimes.
Camez, who was convicted of racketeering charges late last year, is the first of 55 members of the Las Vegas-based "Carder.su" syndicate to go to trial. They were charged in four separate indictments in 2012.
About 20 defendants have pleaded guilty. Of the handful who have been sentenced so far, all have drawn only two years in prison. Two dozen defendants, including the group's Russian leaders Roman Zolotarev and Konstantin Lopatin, are still at large, authorities said.
The case marks the first time the Justice Department has used federal racketeering statutes to go after a cybercrime syndicate, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
"As shown in this case, cybercrime has grown into an industry and is rapidly overtaking traditional crime, such as bank robbery," Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said. "Cybercrime was once viewed as the crime wave of the future, but in reality that threat is here now."
The syndicate is accused of victimizing hundreds of thousands of Americans and several financial institutions, and of committing more than $50 million worth of financial fraud.
Prosecutors say its scheme revolved largely around the buying and selling of pilfered debit and credit card information on an Internet site called Carder.su. The secretive criminal organization had more than 7,800 members worldwide.
Camez became involved at the age of 17.
"Camez was a member of a vast criminal organization that facilitated rampant cyberfraud throughout the world," said David O'Neil, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. "This organization is the new face of organized crime - a highly structured cyber network operated like a business to commit fraud on a global scale."
Michael Adams, a Secret Service agent who infiltrated the crime ring, testified Thursday that federal agents recovered 210,000 stolen credit and debit account numbers in raids.
Camez, whose online nicknames were "Bad Man" and "Doctorsex," had nearly 2,000 compromised account numbers in his possession, Adams said.
He also was ordered to share in restitution of nearly $51 million.
During sentencing, U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon said he had sympathy for the victims because he also has experienced identity theft.
"You appear to be a pretty smart guy," Gordon told Camez. "It's a shame you used your talents in a bad way. Your history tells me I need to protect the public from you."
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com
© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.