14 May 2013
US police dismantled a gang of hackers that stole $45 million in fraudulent ATM withdrawals across the globe after eight suspects got arrested by New York authorities a few days back.
The heist targeting 26 countries started with outdated prepaid credit cards issued by a bank in the United Arab Emirates. Fraudsters hacked into e-banking systems to eliminate the credit limits on the debit cards and then started withdrawing money from ATM machines all across the world.
“Hackers got into bank databases, eliminated withdrawal limits on pre-paid debit cards and created access codes. Others loaded that data onto any plastic card with a magnetic stripe — an old hotel key card or an expired credit card worked fine as long as it carried the account data and correct access codes. A network of operatives then fanned out to rapidly withdraw money in multiple cities, authorities said. The cells would take a cut of the money, then launder it through expensive purchases or ship it wholesale to the global ringleaders,” said Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern district of New York.
Schemers used a large variety of out of date cards, including a gift card, a used hotel key or a no-longer valid credit card. If it had a magnetic stripe on the back, it was good enough for fraudsters to put in place the biggest bank heist of the century.