Six people have been arrested and charged for their alleged participation in ATM fraud that stole $45 million from Middle East banks.
The accused all hail from Yonkers, New York, and have been charged in connection to their alleged membership of a global cybercrime organization that stole MasterCard debit card information, according to a statement issued by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Loretta E. Lynch.
Prosecutors say that in early 2013, $45 million in losses impacted the global financial system. According to the release, approximately $2.8 million was withdrawn from over 140 ATMs in New York city alone, using data stolen from the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates and Bank Muscat in Oman.
The six were apparently members of a group that used "sophisticated intrusion techniques" to hack into financial systems, steal prepaid debit card data, and make fraudulent ATM withdrawals on a global scale.
After breaking into the banking systems, the hackers allegedly raised the balances and withdrawal limits on prepaid cards, before this information was sent to crews in over 20 countries in order for them to withdraw cash. Prosecutors claim that $5 million was stolen worldwide in 2013, and $40 million early this year.
Photographic evidence uncovered by investigators has revealed that most of the proceeds were sent to the group's leadership; some funds transported through luggage and transported to Florida by bus.
The arrested defendants are Anthony Diaz, 24, Saul Franjul aka "Coneio," 23, Saul Genao aka "Cocolito/Ely Genao," 24, Jaindhi Polano, 29, and Jose Valerio aka "Zikkytakki," 25 -- all of which have pleaded not guilty. A sixth defendant, Franklyn Ferriera, will be arraigned on Tuesday.
They have all been charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud. Three of the original defendants, Jael Collado, Jose Familia Reyes and Chung Yu-Holguin, are also faced with the same charge.
Four other defendants, Joan Luis Minier Lara, Evan Jose Peña, Elvis Rodriguez and Emir Yasser Yeje have pleaded guilty to charges resulting from the investigation. The eighth original defendant, Alberto Yusi Lajud-Peña, is deceased.
"As alleged, just a few months ago, after exploiting cyber-weaknesses in the financial system to steal millions from ATMs, these defendants were packing bags to the brim with stolen cash, destined for the cybercriminal organizers of these attacks," stated Lynch. "Today, we have sent them packing once again -- but this time, to jail. We will not relent until all those responsible for these financially devastating cybercrimes are brought to justice."
According to the announcement, the defendants face up to 7.5 years in jail, as well as a fine of up to $250,000 each.