Digital Thieves Swipe $45 Million From ATMs Around The World

May 10, 2013  |  

It’s all in a few day’s work for a band of digital thieves who pulled off what The New York Times reports “was one of the most sophisticated and effective cybercrime attacks ever uncovered.”

Thieves working from their computers changed bank information, giving the green light to a team on the ground in 26 countries to take $45 million from ATMs. “In New York City alone, the thieves responsible for A.T.M. withdrawals struck 2,904 machines over 10 hours starting on Feb. 19, withdrawing $2.4 million,” the article says. Eight unnamed men were indicted yesterday in a New York City court. Some of the accused were caught on tape filling backpacks with money. And in Japan, where you can withdraw $10,000 from an ATM machine, the thieves took the most cash.

The money was laundered through expensive purchases, such as Rolex watches and cars.

According to the New York Daily Newsbanks are on high alert in light of the crime, sharing information gathered by National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, a company based in Pittsburgh. Bank computer systems are also armed to thwart cyberattacks.

Still, the fact that this crime could be committed on an international scale shows the vulnerabilities at the world’s financial institutions. A few tips to keep your money safe:

-Keep an eye on your accounts. Monitor balances on a daily basis, which is possible by quickly logging on to your Internet bank account and taking a look. Report anything amiss immediately.

-Only use ATM machines in vestibules at banks and other financial institutions. While it won’t guard your money entirely, you can more easily report theft and be reimbursed.

-Change your passwords periodically. You don’t have to wait for an incident to change a password. It’s just one more small barrier to problems.

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