Romanian authorities have arrested twenty five international cybercriminals wanted for hacking into banks and making fraudulent credit cards to withdraw over $15 million in fraudulent transactions.
The international cybergang includes over 52 members spanning across the world, from Romania all the way to the United States. The hackers targeted banking computer systems throughout countries including Oman, Muscat, Puerto Rico and the United States where they made several fraudulent transactions.
All the banking hacks were reported and investigated by the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), also known as federal Romanian authorities.
Hackers made several fraudulent transactions throughout an array of countries including Belgium, Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States according to a report from the DIICOT.
Hackers used their unauthorized access into banks computer systems to steal the payment information of credit cards associated with large corporation accounts. The hackers then used the stolen information to make fraudulent copies of the cards. Cloned cards were then distributed among the hackers to make several ATM withdrawals throughout twenty four different countries.
To avoid detection, hackers expedited the process by making several smaller transactions over a period of a few short days, typically over the weekend, a Romanian prosecutor said. Citing one case dating back to 2013, the hackers were able to withdraw $9 million from ATMs located throughout Japan. December 2nd of the same year, the gang went on to make another 4,2000 ATM transactions across 15 different Romanian cities, stealing over $5 million in cash. Putting each transaction at around $1,200 a piece.
Romanian authorities executed 42 search warrants throughout six cities Sunday, seizing laptops, mobile phones among other electronics that were believed to be used by the hackers. Authorities also seized €150,000 (roughly $163,000) in cash, gold bars and paintings.
Police have said the leader invested a portion of the stolen funds into real estate and movable goods that have since been frozen and are pending investigation by the DIICOT.
This is not the first massive cybercrime that has involved hacking into financial institutions and cloning cards to make fraudulent transactions. The recent arrests could be linked to an earlier $45 million cyberheist campaign that U.S. authorities had reported in early 2013.
Back in May 2013, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced the indictment of eight cybercriminals believed to be involved in a larger international cybergang. Hackers were arrested for hacking into financial institutions across the globe, disabling withdrawal limits and making large fraudulent transactions.
Back in February, security researchers from Kaspersky lab had identified one of the largest financial hacks of all time. Reporting a hacking group known as Carbanak Gang who stole up to $1 billion from various banks and financial institutions spanning 25 different countries. Hackers allegedly infected the systems with surveillance malware where the hackers learned the inside and outside of the banks and all internal dealings. The hackers studied how the banks worked to successfully steal over $300 million in just a few hours time.
What international cybergang the arrested hackers were apart of was not mentioned.