ATM Malware Criminals Apprehended

Five members of an international organised criminal group (OCG) have been arrested and three of them convicted so far as a result of a complex operation led by law enforcement agencies from Europe and Asia, with the active support of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3).  One arrest was made by the Romanian National Police, three arrests by the Taiwanese Criminal Investigation Bureau and one arrest by the Belarusian Central Office of the Investigative Committee.  EC3 assisted the investigation by providing analytical support, organising operational meetings in Europe and Asia as well as analysing the seized data/ equipment.

This OCG is responsible for carrying out highly-sophisticated ATM malware attacks against bank ATMs, which were made to dispense all the money they contained (known as cash-out or jackpotting).  The modus operandi employed was highly sophisticated and involved:

  • spear-phishing emails with attachments containing malicious programmes,
  • penetration of the banks’ internal networks,
  • compromising and controlling the network of ATMs,
  • special computer programmes which deleted most of the traces of the criminal activity, etc.

Related losses suffered by the affected banks are estimated at around EUR 3 million. In some cases, after the cashing-out, the stolen money was partially recovered from the criminals.

EC3A key factor for the successful dismantling of this international cybercrime syndicate was close police cooperation on the global level and deep involvement of the Europol Liaison Office at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI).

Steven Wilson, Head of EC3, said: “The majority of cybercrimes have an international dimension, taking into account the origins of suspects and places where crimes are committed. Only through a coordinated approach at the global level between law enforcement agencies can we successfully track down the criminal networks behind such large-scale frauds and bring them to justice.”  Mr Wilson will give the keynote address at the EAST Financial Crime and Security Forum which will be held in The Hague on 8th/9th June 2017.

To further strengthen international police cooperation the Third Strategic Meeting on Payment Card Fraud (PCF) was held last month at the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) in Bangkok, Thailand.

Europol, working with the EAST Expert Group on ATM Fraud (EGAF), has published guidelines to help industry and law enforcement counter the threat presented by ATM logical and malware attacks.

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