Flickr/Don HankinsAn international gang of cyber thieves stole more than $45 million from thousands of ATMs in carefully coordinated attacks conducted in a matter of hours, US authorities said Thursday.
Seven people are under arrest in the US in connection with the case, involving thousands of thefts from ATMs using bogus magnetic swipe cards.
The accused ringleader in the US cell, Alberto Yusi Lajud-Pena, was reportedly murdered in the Dominican Republic late last month, Wired reported, adding that he was shot and killed while playing dominoes.
Several people are under arrest in the US and arrests have been made in other countries, though prosecutors have not elaborated.
The robberies took place over a seven-month period ending last month, with hackers hackers breaking into the computer networks of financial companies in the United States and India, the Washington Post reported.
Prosecutors said the thieves eliminated the withdrawal limits on prepaid debit cards and then fanned out around the globe to drain ATMs.
The Associated Press cited Brooklyn lawyer Loretta Lynch as calling the operation “a massive 21st-century bank heist” and comparing it to the Lufthansa heist in the late 1970s, immortalised in the movie ‘Goodfellas.’
According to the AP, an indictment accused the eight alleged members of the New York cell of withdrawing $2.8 million in cash from hacked accounts in less than a day.
After obtaining debit card data, they eliminated withdrawal limits on the accounts, created access codes and then sent a network of operatives fanning out to rapidly withdraw money in multiple cities, authorities said.
One of the New York suspects was caught on multiple surveillance cameras while others took selfies features giant wads of cash as they raided machines around Manhattan.
The cells would take their cut before laundering it through expensive purchases or ship it wholesale to the global ringleaders.
The scheme involved attacks on two banks, Rakbank in the United Arab Emirates and the Bank of Muscat in Oman.
This story was originally published by GlobalPost.