September 14, 2011
In late 2008, electronic payment service RBS World Pay revealed that a gang of hackers had broken into its computer systems, stolen information to help them create cloned debit cards, boosted their withdrawal limits and stolen huge amounts of money from ATMs around the world.
Mules operated by the gang stole a total of $9 million from more than 2,100 ATMs in at least 280 cities worldwide. All it took them was a jaw-dropping 12 hours to pull off their coordinated heist.
Some were wearing disguises with wigs and facial hair altering their appearance. They dressed nicely while others dressed shabbily, creeping around trying to go unnoticed. Mostly they were brazen, boldly executing the crime as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
A key member of the cybercriminal gang arrested for the crime wasn’t your typical low-profile underworld gangster. Among other things, he purchased a luxury car and two apartments in the Russian city of Novosibirsk before being caught in 2009.
At the time of the robbery, acting United States Attorney, Sally Quillian Yates, said that it was “perhaps the most sophisticated and organized computer fraud attack ever perpetrated.”
The criminal gang is alleged to have created counterfeit cloned debit cards with the stolen information, but they didn’t stop there.
They are supposed to have cracked the encryption security used to protect RBS World Pay PIN numbers and raised the level of funds available on compromised accounts.
Some accounts reportedly had their daily withdrawal limits boosted to up to $500,000.
This is said to have allowed low-level members of the gang to steal over $9 million from more than 2,100 ATMs in at least 280 cities worldwide, in less than 12 hours.
The sheer audacity of this criminal plot is mind-boggling. The crime ring stole an extraordinary amount of money over a short time in a well-organized heist that involved split-second timing.
The criminal scheme was executed by means of electronic subterfuge via computers; even then the number of criminals it took to successfully pull off the brazen heist must have been numerous.
2100 ATMs divided by 280 cities around the world equals 7.5 ATMs per city on average. In order to withdraw $9,000,000.00 in under 12 hours from 2100 ATMs around the world, that would entail hitting an average of almost 3 ATMs every minute during those 12 hours.
At 3 ATMs a minute it would take one crook per each ATM in order to execute the transactions successfully, which would be 3 bad guys multiplied by 280 cities, totaling 840 thieving conspirators.
Perhaps we’ll be hearing about the latest exploits of James Bond after all as he saves the world economy from dastardly villains committing a dramatic modern day true-life caper.
Rick Berry is President/CEO of ABC Mobile Pay, a merchant services provider and a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo, N.A. Over the last decade Rick has earned the title of ‘Expert’ in the payments space and the mobile technology arena while developing customized products and services for the mobile payments sector.
ABC Mobile Pay brings a robust mobile POS payment solution to retailers and wholesalers of all types and sizes around the world like the one in use at retail Apple stores. www.abcmobilepay.com | 877-258-5223 | firstname.lastname@example.org |http://www.abcmobilepay.com/demos.html