A gang of cyber-criminals stole $45 million in a matter of hours by hacking their way into a database of prepaid debit cards and then draining cash machines around the globe, federal prosecutors said today. Seven people are under arrest in the US in connection with the case, which prosecutors said involved thousands of thefts from ATMs using bogus magnetic swipe cards. The accused ringleader in the US cell, Alberto Yusi Lajud-Pena, was reportedly murdered in the Dominican Republic late last month, prosecutors said. More investigations are ongoing and other arrests have been made in other countries, but prosecutors did not have details.
An indictment unsealed today accused the eight of being members of the New York cell, saying they withdrew $2.8 million in cash from hacked accounts in less than a day. Prosecutors said the scheme involved attacks on two banks, Rakbank, which is in the United Arab Emirates, and the Bank of Muscat in Oman. Hackers obtained debit card data, eliminated withdrawal limits on the accounts, created access codes, and then sent a network of operatives fanning out to rapidly withdraw money in multiple cities, authorities said. There were two separate attacks, one in December and one in February. In the second attack, more than 36,000 transactions were made worldwide and about $40 million was stolen. (Read more ATMs stories.)