Turk gets 8 years in jail in $55m theft in ATM hacks

Washington - A Turkish computer hacker who helped steal $55m from ATM machines in dozens of countries using data from credit card issuers was sentenced to eight years in prison on Friday.

Ercan Findikoglu pleaded guilty last year to computer intrusion, fraud and other charges relating to organizing the round-the-world operation in which operatives used bogus credit and debit cards to raid thousand of bank accounts via cash dispensing machines.

The thefts took place in three distinct, tightly-organised operations between 2011 and 2013.

The third operation, on February 19-20, 2013, involved crews withdrawing nearly $40m in 36,000 ATM transactions in 24 hours.

READ: Standard Bank computer was hacked in R300m ATM fraud hit - report

That included 3 000 withdrawals over 10 hours for $2.4m in New York alone, according to prosecutors.

Large withdrawals were enabled by Findikoglu being able to hack into card issuer computers and remove withdrawal limits on customer accounts.

Fake bank cards were distributed to the street crews who raised the ATM machines, splitting a portion of the proceeds with Findikoglu.

Findikoglu was arrested in December 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany and extradited to the Untied States in 2015.

"Findikoglu was a skilled hacker who chose to use his considerable computer talents for criminal financial gain and to wreak economic havoc, rather than for legitimate pursuits," US attorney Robert Capers said in a statement.

In a similar attack last year, investigators reportedly discovered that a Standard Bank South Africa computer system was hacked in a R300m ATM fraud hit in Japan.

It had emerged that about 100 people reportedly used forged Standard Bank [JSE:SBK] credit cards to withdraw ¥1.8bn (over R250m) from 1 400  ATMs in Tokyo and other areas in Japan in under three hours.

Standard Bank later confirmed the incident with the bank having estimated that it lost about R300m in the crime.

Standard Bank said there had been no financial loss for customers in the "sophisticated, coordinated fraud incident".

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