Instead of wearing ski masks and waving machine guns, modern-day bank robbers stole data from the banks, relayed "that information to a far-flung network of so-called cashing crews" who where then able to steal "$45 million from thousands of A.T.M.'s in a matter of hours." This may just be the beginning of times to come.
In the first operation, hackers infiltrated the system of an unnamed Indian credit-card processing company that handles Visa and MasterCard prepaid debit cards. Such companies are attractive to cybercriminals because they are considered less secure than financial institutions, computer security experts say.
The hackers, who are not named in the indictment, then raised the withdrawal limits on prepaid MasterCard debit accounts issued by the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah, also known as RakBank, which is in United Arab Emirates.
Once the withdrawal limits have been eliminated, even a few compromised bank account numbers can result in tremendous financial loss to the victim financial institution, the indictment states. And by using prepaid cards, the thieves were able to take money without draining the bank accounts of individuals, which might have set off alarms more quickly.
With five account numbers in hand, the hackers distributed the information to individuals in 20 countries who then encoded the information on magnetic-stripe cards. On Dec. 21, the cashing crews made 4,500 A.T.M. transactions worldwide, stealing $5 million, according to the indictment.
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