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$45M ATM heist carried out by NY cyber criminals: authorities

Posted: 3:48 PM, May 10, 2013
Updated: 2013-05-10 15:49:44-04

Eight New Yorkers are charged with stealing millions of dollars from banks in what the US Attorney called a global cybercrime organization that pulled off the largest cyber heist they’ve ever seen.

In just a few hours during two separate cyber heists this group here in New York alone stole almost $3 million from hacked accounts.  And this cell was part of a larger global crime organization that nearly got away with $45 million, simply by taking money out of ATMs around the world.

“As charged in the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators participated in a massive 21st century bank heist that reached across the Internet and stretched around the globe.  In the place of guns and masks, this cybercrime organization used laptops and the Internet,” said US attorney Loretta Lynch.

ATM thieves

The alleged cyber criminals weren’t shy, taking multiple photos of themselves; including several with them holding large stacks of cash.

Lynch says once in December and again in February the group of cyber crooks hacked into two banks gaining access to the prepaid debit card accounts.

The hackers stole the account numbers and removed withdrawal limits from each of the cards- it’s a scheme know in the cybercrime world as “Unlimited Operations”.

The hackers give the account and PIN numbers to ‘cashers’ around the world who use the cards to take cash out of regular ATMs.

“New technologies and the rapid growth of the Internet have eliminated the traditional borders of financial crimes and provided new opportunities for the criminal element to threaten the world’s financial systems.  However, as demonstrated by the charges and arrests announced today, the Secret Service and its law enforcement partners have adapted to these technological advancements and utilized cutting edge investigative techniques to thwart this cybercriminal activity,” said Steven Hughes, of the US Secret Service.

Loretta Lynch

“As charged in the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators participated in a massive 21st century bank heist that reached across the Internet and stretched around the globe. In the place of guns and masks, this cybercrime organization used laptops and the Internet,” said US attorney Loretta Lynch.

Here in New York, the 8 defendants used the cards on two separate dates totaling almost $4,000 ATM transactions and collecting nearly 3 million dollars.  And all this took place in about 12 hours. And throughout the globe investigators say there wore more than $40,000 ATM transactions totaling 45-million dollars all in a matter of hours.

“Law enforcement is committed to moving just as swiftly to solve these cybercrimes and bring their perpetrators to justice.”

Now the US Attorney says one of the 8 defendants named in the indictment was killed last month in the Dominican Republic.  If convicted the other 7 could face more than 25 years in jail and fines.