Cyber thieves hacked Indian firm in ’21st-century bank heist’

New York, May 10 (IANS) An international gang of cyber thieves, accused of stealing $45 million from banks around the globe in “a massive 21st-century bank heist”, infiltrated an unnamed Indian card-processing company in one of their operations, according to a media report.

In the first operation Dec 21, hackers infiltrated the system of the unnamed Indian credit-card processing company that handles Visa and MasterCard prepaid debit cards, according to the New York Times.

The crews made 4,500 ATM withdrawals worldwide, netting $5 million.

On Feb 19, they did the same thing using an American card-processing company and the Oman-based Bank of Muscat — only this time there were 36,000 withdrawals worth a combined $40 million. Each attack was pulled off in a matter of hours.

Federal prosecutors unsealed charges Thursday against eight alleged members of the cyber theft ring in Brooklyn, New York.

US Attorney Loretta Lynch described the group as a “virtual criminal flash mob, going from machine to machine drawing as much money as they can before these accounts are shut down”.

They deposited some of the cash into bank accounts, in one case putting almost $150,000 in $20 bills into one account. They also bought expensive cars, watches and other luxury items.

One of the eight defendants, Alberto Yusi Lajud-Pena, described in the indictment as the leader of the group, was murdered in the Dominican Republic April 27, according to a statement from Lynch’s office cited by CNN.

The others were arrested over a six-week period that began March 27 and ended Tuesday.

Lynch said her office worked with law enforcement authorities in 16 countries — including Japan, Canada, Germany and Romania — as part of the investigation.

“The defendants and their co-conspirators participated in a massive 21st century bank heist that reached across the internet and stretched around the globe,” said Lynch.

“In the place of guns and masks, this cybercrime organisation used laptops and the internet.”

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