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Wet Seal says it was target of credit-card data theft ring

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Foothill Ranch, Calif. Wet Seal said late Monday that it was one of the retailers targeted by a credit-card data theft ring in 2008 involving computer hacker Albert Gonzalez, who was sentenced to 20+ years in prison last Friday.

The apparel retailer said that it learned the group had gained unauthorized access to its systems to try to take customers' credit- and debit-card data. Wet Seal said no evidence was found that the individuals actually obtained any customer data.

"The security of our customer's personal information is of utmost importance to us, and we acted quickly and decisively when this matter arose two years ago. We are pleased that time has proven, as we believed from the outset, that none of our customer information was taken," president and CEO Ed Thomas said in a statement.

Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years and a day in prison for his role in the data thefts, but a Massachusetts judge ordered that the term run concurrently with a 20-year term he already received from a different judge last Thursday in two related cases.

Friday's sentencing involved the theft of credit-card numbers from the Scarsborough, Maine-based Hannaford Bros. supermarket chain, Dallas-based 7-Eleven, and Heartland Payment Systems, a New Jersey-based card-payment processor.

Thursday's sentence stemmed from two cases that were combined and involved TJX Cos., BJ's Wholesale Club, Barnes & Noble, OfficeMax and Dave & Buster's.

Tens of millions of credit- and debit-card numbers were stolen, costing the companies, banks and insurers nearly $200 million.