Eight Charged in $45 Million Cybertheft Bank Heist

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Federal prosecutors unsealed charges Thursday against an alleged cybertheft ring accused of stealing $45 million from banks and other financial firms around the globe.

The charges were announced in Brooklyn, N.Y., by U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch of the Eastern District of New York. She said the eight named withdrew $2.8 million from New York banks in two separate attacks, each executed in a matter of hours, this past December and February.

Lynch said that, at the same time they were taking the money from New York banks, the accused co-conspirators were making withdrawals at other banks around the world.

According to a statement from Lynch's office, one of the eight was murdered in the Domincan Republic on April 27. The others were arrested over a six-week period that began March 27 and ended Tuesday.

The ring used prepaid MasterCard debit cards issued by National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah PSC in the United Arab Emirates and the Bank of Muscat, located in Oman. But the cards were used in a wide range of banks around the world. The eight charged allegedly made nearly 3,800 separate transactions in order to withdraw the $2.8 million.

Lynch said her office worked with law enforcement authorities in 16 foreign countries -- including Japan, Canada, Germany and Romania -- as part of the investigation.

"The defendants and their co-conspirators participated in a massive 21st-century bank heist that reached across the Internet and stretched around the globe," said Lynch. "In the place of guns and masks, this cybercrime organization used laptops and the Internet."

Cybercrime has become an issue of growing concern, especially as the number of hacking attacks from overseas has grown. Even the Federal Reserve was hacked from overseas earlier this year.

While hacking attacks often steal personal information that can then be used in identity theft schemes, hacking theft from banks and credit card companies by organized crime is also a growing problem. Two years ago, Citigroup admitted that more than $2.7 million was stolen from 3,400 accounts during a hacking attack.


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