7 Hackers & A Great Bank Robbery
The US prosecutors announced that a cybercrime ring managed to steal $45 million from a couple of Middle Eastern banks in one of the largest bank robberies ever. The group coped with hacking into credit card processing companies and withdrawing money from ATMs in more than two dozen countries.
8 individuals were alleged to form the NY-based cell of the group, 7 of which are already in custody, while the 8th, allegedly a leader of the gang, was reported to have been murdered in the Dominican Republic this past April.
According to the prosecutors, the ringleaders were outside the US, but the investigation is still continuing. Anyway, it seems that the crooks somehow managed to do some serious damage in short time. For instance, during one of the 10-hours attacks, they raided $40 million from ATMs in two dozen countries through 36,000 transactions.
It turned out that the cybercrime group used laptops and the worldwide web instead of guns and masks. The outfit managed to work its way from the computer systems of large companies to the streets of New York City. Thus, you can see how cybercrime poses a huge threat to the international banks and how tech-savvy criminal gangs are now.
So, within the last 5 months, the collective hacked into the computers of a couple of credit card processors – one in India and the other in the US. They then increased the available balance and withdrawal limits on prepaid MasterCard debit cards issued by banks of Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Finally, they distributed counterfeit debit cards to their people across the globe, enabling them to extract millions of dollars out of ATMs in a matter of hours.
In the meanwhile, MasterCard announced that it did cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation but its systems weren’t involved or compromised. Experts believe that the robbers targeted Middle Eastern banks because those usually allow people putting larger sums on cards. In addition, they don’t monitor them as closely as other banks. Although it was only a matter of time before the Eastern banks were considered an easy target for cyber criminals, security experts remind that the attack mirrored a similar case four years ago, which targeted the prepaid debit-card unit of Royal Bank of Scotland. In the time, the bank lost over $9 million in just 12 hours.