By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A computer hacker linked to the group known as Anonymous pleaded guilty on Tuesday to breaking into a global intelligence company.
Jeremy Hammond of Chicago admitted to hacking into Strategic Forecasting Inc, based in Austin, Texas, in December 2011. He also admitted to being involved in hacks at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other entities and agencies.
Hammond and his co-conspirators stole confidential information, including about 60,000 credit card numbers and records for 860,000 clients of Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, and uploaded it to a server in New York, prosecutors said.
"I knew what I was doing was against the law," Hammond said in court on Tuesday.
Hammond faces a maximum 10 year sentence on the charge of conspiracy to engage in computer hacking. U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in New York set sentencing for September 6.
Prosecutors said Hammond, 28, went by the nickname "Anarchaos" and participated in a series of hacks by groups called AntiSec and LulzSec, which are loosely associated with Anonymous.
Anonymous and other loosely affiliated hacking groups have taken credit for carrying out attacks against the CIA, Britain's Serious Organized Crime Agency and companies such as Japan's Sony Corp. Authorities have arrested a number of the group's key players.
"While he billed himself as fighting for an anarchist cause, in reality, Jeremy Hammond caused personal and financial chaos for individuals whose identities and money he took and for companies whose businesses he decided he didn't like," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
Hammond also admitted to participating in a series of hacks on government and business entities including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association and the Jefferson County, Alabama, Sheriff's Office.
U.S. authorities announced Hammond's arrest in March along with charges against five other hackers who they alleged were also aligned with Anonymous, a loose-knit group of hackers.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond; editing by Andrew Hay)