Computer hackers devised a highly coordinated, global attack on ATM cards involving the theft of a staggering $9 million from bank customers, according to an report broadcast by FOX 5 TV in New York.
Federal agents are calling it one of the most well-coordinated schemes they’ve ever seen, the station reported. Just to pull it off, thieves had to coordinate personnel in dozens of U.S. cities to strike at the same moment. The FBI also fears that the hackers obtained potentially more valuable personal information.
The FBI said it uncovered the plot and is investigating. The alleged hackers are still at large and could orchestrate another attack.
In a matter of hours, the thieves struck ATMs from 49 different cities — including New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Moscow and Montreal — just after 8 p.m. EST on Nov. 8, according to the FBI.
Part of the heist was caught on security camera images obtained by the TV station. The photos show people the FBI calls "cashers" — low-level participants in the plot who allegedly used bogus ATM cards with stolen information — at the machines.
The scheme worked as follows: Plotters hacked into a computer system for a company called RBS WorldPay, which allows employers to transfer workers' pay directly to a payroll card.
The scam artists were then able to infiltrate the system and steal personal data needed to make duplicate ATM cards.
"We've seen similar attempts to defraud a bank through ATM machines but not anywhere near the scale we have here," FBI Agent Ross Rice told FOX 5. "We've never seen one this well coordinated."
The FBI has no suspects and has made no arrests thus far.
An Atlanta attorney filed a class-action lawsuit against RBS WorldPay for the alleged security breach.
The company told FOX 5 they'd hired a security firm to investigate and try to prevent identity theft in the future.
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