News / USA

US Charges 8 in $45 Million Cyber Crime Scheme

Reuters
The U.S. government charged eight individuals with using data obtained by hacking into two credit card processors in a worldwide scheme that netted some $45 million within hours, a crime prosecutors described as one of the biggest bank heists in history.
 
The individuals formed the New York-based cell of a global cyber criminal organization that stole Mastercard Inc  debit card data from two Middle Eastern banks, the Justice Department said. The information was used to make more than 40,500 withdrawals at automated teller machines in 27 countries, prosecutors said.
 
The cards were issued by National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates and Bank of Muscat in Oman, prosecutors said.
 
Bank representatives could not be reached for comment outside of regular business hours.
 
The case demonstrates the major threat that cyber crime still poses to banks around the world. Security experts frequently identify electronic fraud as one of the key challenges facing banks today.
 
“Hackers only need to find one vulnerability to cause millions of dollars of damage,'' said Mark Rasch, a former federal cyber crimes prosecutor, based in Bethesda, Maryland.
 
Authorities said they arrested seven of the eight defendants, all U.S. citizens and residents of Yonkers, New York. They are Jael Mejia Collado, Joan Luis Minier Lara, Evan Jose PeIna, Jose Familia Reyes, Elvis Rafael Rodriguez, Emir Yasser Yeje and Chung Yu-Holguin.
 
The eighth defendant charged in the indictment, Alberto Yusi Lajud-PeIna, also known as “Prime'' and “Albertico,'' was murdered on April 27 in the Dominican Republic, according to prosecutors. U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in Brooklyn, New York, who filed the charges, said at a press conference it was unclear whether the murder was related to the cybercrime case.
 
Prosecutors said the attacks, known as “unlimited operations,'' occurred in two separate incidents in December 2012 and February 2013.
 
The hackers gained access to companies that process debit card transactions, eliminated the maximum withdrawal limits on the cards and then employed “casher'' crews to take money out of ATMs around the world using the stolen data, prosecutors said.
 
After the cards were shut down, cashers laundered the proceeds, often by purchasing luxury goods, and sent a portion of the money back to the organization's leaders, prosecutors said.
 
In the New York City area, the ring withdrew nearly $400,000 in less than three hours at more than 140 ATM locations, prosecutors said. On another occasion, approximately $2.4 million was collected in nearly 3,000 ATM withdrawals over a 10-hour stretch, according to prosecutors.
 
That makes the case the second biggest bank robbery in New York City history, Lynch said, after the so-called “Lufthansa heist,'' in which robbers stole millions in cash and jewelry from John F. Kennedy International Airport.
 
Lynch said it was likely that the headquarters of the global scheme is located outside the United States and that the current charges focused only on the New York-based cell. Investigators are examining whether other cells are operating elsewhere in the United States, she said.
 
In a statement, Mastercard said it had cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation and stressed that its systems were not involved or compromised in the attacks.

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More