Hacked: Hacking Finance

Master Hacker Behind $55 Million ATM Cyber Spree Pleads Guilty


Samburaj Das

Samburaj Das

Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.


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Master Hacker Behind $55 Million ATM Cyber Spree Pleads Guilty

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Turkish hacker Ercan Findikoglu, 34, has plead guilty in a federal court in Brooklyn today to five counts leading to a worldwide scheme that saw stolen debit card data result in a cyber heist of $55 million from ATMs around the world.

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The mastermind behind one of the most successful and coordinated banking heists in history plead guilty in a federal court to five counts including computer intrusion conspiracy, Reuters reported today.

Findikoglu was the leader of the scheme which saw one particular heist in 2013 result in the withdrawal of a massive $40 million from multiple ATMs across 24 countries. The duration of the well-coordinated heist was a mere 10 hours.

Findikoglu, also known as “Predator” and “Segate” was arrested in Germany in December 2013, before being extradited from the country to the United States in June 2015.

The Master Heist

Between 2010 and 2013, prosecutors said that a group of hackers led by Findikoglu gained access to multiple networks of prepaid debit card payment processors Fidelity National Information Services Inc and ElectraCard Services. Both companies are now owned by MasterCard Inc, and enStage.

Following the infiltration, the hackers –armed with the masterplan – pushed the prepaid cards’ account balances to be increased tremendously. So much so that the accounts would allow for large withdrawals.

Once accomplished, the hacking group led by Findikoglu dispersed the stolen debit card details among “cashing crews” around the world. Altogether, there were tens of thousands of fraudulent transactions and ATM withdrawals made in sync at the same time. The proceeds were transferred to Findikoglu and other high-ranking members of the cyber-heist through wire transfer, personal cash deliveries, electronic currencies and more.

Significant ATM withdrawals:

  • The biggest single heist of the operation saw $40 million withdrawn with cards issued by the Bank of Muscat in Oman targeted. The cashing crews engaged in 36,000 transactions altogether in February 2013.
  • A Feb 2011 heist saw JPMorgan Chase and Co debit cards, as well as those used by the American Red Cross which saw disaster relief provided to victims, targeted. $10 million was withdrawn in total.
  • A December 2012 heist had cards issued by the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates targeted. $5 million in losses, this time.
  • In separate operations during 2012 and 2013, a New York Cashing crew alone withdrew $2.8 million from the city. Thirteen of the crew’s members have plead guilty to the crime.

 Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Samburaj Das

Samburaj Das

Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.

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