Thieves Rip Off $35K From MH370 Passenger Accounts

Suspects have been identified: police chief

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 15, 2014 9:32 AM CDT

(Newser) – Some $35,000 has been withdrawn from the bank accounts of four passengers aboard the lost Malaysia Airlines Flight 370—and no, authorities don't believe the passengers are alive and spending big. Malaysia's Star reports fraudsters funneled funds from three passengers' accounts into a fourth, then moved the money via Internet transfer to an account "believed to be that of one of the suspects," police said. The culprits then "made ATM withdrawals ... until the account was empty," an investigator said, adding "we are now trying to trace the identity of the suspect who opened that account."

A police chief's words seemed at odds with that statement yesterday, however. "We have identified the suspects involved and are gathering more evidence before we take further action," he said. The investigator also noted he had not ruled out the possibility of an inside job. The identities of those targeted have not been released, but the Independent reports the crime went down in July, with withdrawals beginning mid-month, and all the accounts are believed to be with HSBC. The culprits could face 10 years in jail or a fine of about $50,000 under Malaysia's Computer Crimes Act.

Jacquita Gomes, second from left, wife of in-flight supervisor Patrick Gomes aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Jacquita Gomes, second from left, wife of in-flight supervisor Patrick Gomes aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.   (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)
Two men walk past an HSBC branch office in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 7, 2014.
Two men walk past an HSBC branch office in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 7, 2014.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Two men walk past an HSBC branch office in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 7, 2014.
Two men walk past an HSBC branch office in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 7, 2014.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Two men walk past an HSBC branch office in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 7, 2014.
Two men walk past an HSBC branch office in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 7, 2014.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
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