The U.S. Justice Department has charged eight men in New York for their involvement in a cyber crime ring that stole $45 million from two Middle Eastern banks by hacking into credit card companies and then withdrawing the cash from ATMs worldwide.
The gang first hacked into the computers of bank card processors to steal MasterCard prepaid debit card data and erase withdrawal limits, and then passed the information to the ATM cashers or mules, Wired reports.
On December 22, prepaid MasterCard debit cards issued to customers of the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah PSC, or RAKBANK, in the United Arab Emirates were targeted for $5 million in cash in more than 4,500 ATM withdrawals.
The eight charged in New York, one of whom was reportedly murdered April 27 in the Dominican Republic, were part of a New York cell that was responsible for allegedly siphoning at least $2.8 million from more than 750 Manhattan ATMs in just 2.5 hours.
The second wave of theft occurred February 19 targeting Bank of Muscat in Oman. Within 10 hours, cashers in 24 countries had made about 36,000 ATM withdrawals totaling about $40 million.
The stolen money was laundered and used to buy cars and other luxury goods.
The seven living defendants are all residents of Yonkers, New York, and in their early twenties, except one who is 35. They face charges including conspiracy to commit access device fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering. The money laundering charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The conspiracy charges for access device fraud carry a maximum 7.5 years sentence.