Federal authorities have arrested five more men accused of taking part in a 21st-century bank heist that siphoned a whopping $45 million out of ATMs around the world in a matter of hours.
Prosecutors said the men charged on Monday were members of the New York-based cell of a global operation and contributed to the $45 million theft by illegally withdrawing $2.8 million from 140 different ATMs in that city. The arrests came after the defendants sent $800,000 in cash proceeds in a suitcase transported by bus to a syndicate kingpin located in Florida, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch said. Photos seized from one defendant's iPhone showed huge amounts of cash piled on a hotel bed and being stuffed into luggage, she said.
The heists took place during two dates in December 2012 and targeted payment cards issued by the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah PSC in the United Arab Emirates and the Bank of Muscat in Oman respectively. Prosecutors dubbed the heists "unlimited" operations because they systematically removed the withdrawal limits normally placed on debit card accounts. These restrictions work as a safety mechanism that caps the amount of loss that banks normally face when something goes wrong. The operation removed the limits by hacking into two companies that processed online payments for the two targeted banks, prosecutors alleged in earlier indictments. Prosecutors didn't identify the payment processors except to say that one was in India and the other was in the United States.