Federal Authorities Arrest Five More Defendants in $45 Million ATM Heist (Nov. 19, 2013)
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Monday announced the arrests of five more defendants connected to a massive global bank heist involving $45 million siphoned from ATMs around the world in coordinated efforts in December of 2012 and February of this year. According to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Loretta Lynch, and Steven G. Hughes of the U.S. Secret Service, the five Yonkers, N.Y., men arrested allegedly conspired with others to hack into the systems of financial institutions via their processors, steal prepaid debit card data and make fraudulent ATM withdrawals on a global scale. “We will not relent until all those responsible for these financially devastating cybercrimes are brought to justice,” Lynch said.
New photographic evidence helped authorities arrest suspects Anthony Diaz, Saul Franjul, Saul Genao, Jaindhi Polanco, and Jose Angeley Valeri, ages 23 to 29, who pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit access device fraud. Each faces a possible sentence of seven and a half years in prison, as well as forfeiture and a fine of up to $250,000. A sixth defendant, Franklyn Ferreira, fled and was later arrested but has not been arraigned. The latest arrests bring the number of defendants accused of engineering the cybercrime to 14; the crime ring’s alleged leader, Florida resident Alberto Yusi Lajud-Peña, was shot April 27 in the Dominican Republic.
The hackers reportedly began last year to exploit security weaknesses, breaking into a bank card processor handling transactions for prepaid debit cards issued to customers of the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah PSC, or RAKBANK, in the United Arab Emirates. The perpetrators stole prepaid debit card data and erased withdrawal limits on the card accounts, then passed the accounts to “cashers” in the U.S. and elsewhere who withdrew about $5 million cash on Dec. 22, 2012, from ATMs around the world.
The second phase of the heist occurred Feb. 19, targeting a second bank card processor that handled transactions for the Bank of Muscat in Oman, resulting in cashers withdrawing about $40 million from ATMs in 24 countries in 10 hours. Authorities said the group arrested this week in New York also participated in the February heist, withdrawing $2.8 million altogether from New York area ATMs.