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Over almost two years, Hieu Minh Ngo made $2 million by providing illegal access to a massive database of personal information to hundreds of criminals. (Photo: Thinkstock)

(Bloomberg) — Stealing credit card information had become a grind. The hacker was spending 12 hours a day hunched over a keyboard, scanning the Internet for weaknesses he could exploit to pilfer data he’d sell for increasingly meager sums.

And so Hieu Minh Ngo began looking for another scam. What the Vietnamese hacker discovered transformed him into one of the most prolific identity thieves in U.S. history. All he needed was a web portal and a bit of social engineering. After that, he said, your information belonged to him.

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