The defendants allegedly formed the New York-based cell of an international cybercrime organization that used sophisticated intrusion techniques to hack into the systems of global financial institutions, steal prepaid debit card data, and eliminate withdrawal limits. The stolen card data was then disseminated worldwide and used in making fraudulent ATM withdrawals on a massive scale across the globe.
The eight indicted defendants and their co-conspirators targeted New York City and withdrew approximately $2.8m in a matter of hours. The defendants are charged variously with conspiracy to commit access device fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering.
"In the place of guns and masks, this cyber crime organization used laptops and the Internet," US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch said at a news conference, referring to the crime as a "massive 21st century bank heist."
One cell in larger ring
In all, the global crime ring stole $45m from two Middle Eastern banks by hacking into credit card processing firms and withdrawing money from ATMs in 27 countries, US prosecutors said on Thursday.
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