Digital ATM heist nets thieves $45 million – biggest ATM fraud in history

// May 12th, 2013 // Hacking and Security

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ATM bank cash machine

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have revealed that an international team of thieves had stolen close to $45 million in a matter of hours using hacked ATM debit cards. In New York City alone, thieves struck 2,094 ATM machines in 10 hours withdrawing $2.4 million in cash.

The hackers first broke into the computer system of an India-based company that processed pre-paid debit cards (this type of company is known to be less secure than the major financial institutions). They next hacked existing debit card accounts to raise or remove withdrawal limits on the account’s debit card.  Then using a magnetic card reader/writer, they created and activated copies of the cards for the hacked accounts. With five account numbers in hand, the cards were then sent to recipients in 20 countries around the world who commenced to purchasing Rolex watches, expensive jewels, and even cars as a means to launder the money. In some cases, the thieves simply withdrew loads of cash from ATM machines (several were caught on camera stuffing backpacks with cash).

And yeah, this sort of crime is much easier in the United States where outdated magnetic strip technology is still used rather than newer “chip and PIN” (EVM) technologies used in Europe or FeliCA RFID technology that is used in Japan.

An indictment charging eight men was unsealed yesterday.  Also included in the indictment was their suspected ringleader, who was found shot to death in the Dominican Republic last month.

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