Security

Criminals steal £9m From 1,400 Japan ATMs In Less Than Three Hours

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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More than 100 suspects were reportedly involved in a coordinated operation that used about 1,600 forged South African credit cards

A criminal gang numbering more than 100 members has stolen about £9 million from cash machines across Japan in an incident that involved withdrawing funds from 1,400 automated tellers across the country within less than three hours, according to a local report.

Those involved forged credit cards using data stolen from a bank in South Africa, in a move apparently intended to delay the operation’s discovery, according to a report by the Yomiuri Shimbun, which cited unnamed investigators.

Corner shops targeted

Hacker, cyber crime © Stokkete, Shutterstock 2014The incident is the latest to target weaknesses in the international banking system, which also recently saw hackers steal £56 million from Bangladesh’s central bank via the Swift funds transfer mechanism.

They withdrew a total of 1.44bn yen from cash machines located in corner shops in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Aichi, Osaka, Fukuoka and 11 other prefectures, the report said.

Each of the more than 14,000 transactions involved the withdrawal of 100,000 yen, the maximum allowed for cash machines in Japan, and all took place in the space of 2 1/2 hours, between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Sunday, 15 May, the report said. About 1,600 forged cards were reportedly involved.

The report came to light in a report from a bank involved in installing some of the cash machines, the Shimbun said.

The paper’s sources didn’t know whether the card data had been obtained via a hack on the bank in question or by another method.

International investigation

Japanese police are reportedly investigating the crime by analysing images recorded by security cameras and are participating with Interpol and South African authorities to look into how the card data was leaked.

Crimes targeting automated teller systems are on the rise, with criminals in one case hacking a model of ATM running on Windows XP and cause it to dispense cash by sending it a text message.

In another case cited by the Shimbun, a group withdrew a total of £28.4m from 2012 to 2013 at cash machines in 26 countries using forged bank cards. A Romanian man and others are reportedly suspected of carrying out the thefts.

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