A band of international cyber thieves stole $40 million dollars from ATM machines in a matter of hours back in February and $5 million late last year. Using two timed heist operations and accomplices on the street, the looting of the ATMs involved computer hackers, manipulated financial information and common street criminals. In New York, a group of men were the first to be arrested in this elaborate global scheme.
The New York Times reports that eight men, including the alleged ringleader, who was found dead in the Dominican Republic in March, were responsible for sacking the machines to the amount of $2.4 million. Yesterday (May 9), prosecutors unsealed an indictment against the remaining seven and called the theft one of New York's largest heists ever.
“In the place of guns and masks, this cybercrime organization used laptops and the Internet,” said Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney in Brooklyn. “Moving as swiftly as data over the Internet, the organization worked its way from the computer systems of international corporations to the streets of New York City, with the defendants fanning out across Manhattan to steal millions of dollars from hundreds of A.T.M.'s in a matter of hours.”
The money obtained in New York was laundered by way of purchasing expensive items such as Rolex watches, cars and other items. The group was also brazen, shown posing in photos with the cash which prosecutors presented as evidence. The thieves were caught after the machines, many armed with cameras, snapped photos of the men stuffing loads of cash into backpacks.
The February attack was a bolder move; this after the thieves stole $5 million last December. After hacking into the database of an Indian credit-card processing company that handles Visa and MasterCard prepaid debit cards, the hackers raised the withdrawal limits on the prepaid card accounts issued by the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah, located in the United Arab Emirates.
Even more staggering, the thieves managed to pull off this crime with just five account numbers distributed over a vast network involving 20 countries. In the February heist, the hackers obtained 12 account numbers from an American debit card processing company, stealing $40 million in total after 36,000 worldwide transactions.
Check out some of the photo evidence, including two Rolexes and a Mercedes Benz jeep copped with the illicit funds, in the gallery.
Photo: United States Attorney's office, Eastern District of New York