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Five new arrests made in $45M cyberheist case

This suitcase of $800,000 in criminal cash was bound for Florida, where it was slated to be delivered to a cyberheist organizers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District.

From U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York

On Monday, five defendants were arrested in connection with their participation in a massive cyberheist campaign that inflicted $45 million in losses on the global financial system in a matter of hours in early 2013. 

Defendants Anthony Diaz, Saul Franjul, Saul Genao, Jaindhi Polanco and Jose Angeley Valerio were members of the New York-based cell of an international cybercrime organization, which used sophisticated intrusion techniques to hack into the systems of financial institutions,  steal prepaid debit card data and make fraudulent ATM withdrawals on a global scale.

Newly seized photographic evidence reveals that the defendants sent the lion’s share of the proceeds to the organization’s leaders – including $800,000 of criminal cash proceeds sent in luggage and transported to Florida by bus for delivery to a cyberheist organizer.

The superseding indictment unsealed Monday in Brooklyn Federal Court charges the five arrested defendants with conspiracy to commit access device fraud. They were scheduled to be arraigned by U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York A sixth defendant, Franklyn Ferreira, is a fugitive from justice.

The charges and arrests were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, based in Brooklyn; and Steven G. Hughes, special agent in charge, U.S. States Secret Service, New York Field Office.

“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 United States Attorney 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.”

As charged in the superseding indictment and other court filings, the defendants arrested on Monday and their co-conspirators in this case engaged in cyberattacks known in the cyber underworld as “unlimited operations” – through its hacking “operation,” the cybercrime organization can access virtually “unlimited” criminal proceeds.

The defendants allegedly participated in two recent “unlimited operations” of staggering size. During the first operation, on Dec. 22, 2012, hackers penetrated a credit card processor’s computer network, compromised prepaid debit card accounts of the National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah PSC, and operated a coordinated ATM withdrawal campaign. In total, more than 4,500 ATM transactions were conducted in approximately 20 countries around the world, resulting in approximately $5 million in losses.

In the second unlimited operation, which occurred on Feb. 19-20, 2013, the hackers compromised prepaid debit card accounts associated with Bank Muscat, and operated a coordinated ATM withdrawal campaign. Over the course of approximately 10 hours, cybercells in 24 countries withdrew about $40 million from ATMs.

As part of these operations, Diaz, Franjul, Genao, Polanco and Valerio allegedly operated the New York cell of “cashers,” who fanned out across the New York area to make thousands of withdrawals from ATMs. During the two operations, over the course of a few hours, the defendants and their co-conspirators withdrew approximately $2.8 million at over 140 different ATM locations in New York City.

As captured in a photograph seized from a conspirator’s iPhone, on March 2, 2013, defendant Franjul packed $800,000 in cash into luggage destined for the late Alberto Yusi Lajud-Peña, who was then in Miami.

New York cell members also used the funds to celebrate at high-priced nightclubs and go on shopping sprees for luxury goods, such as expensive watches and cars, many of which have been seized in the course of this investigation.

Diaz, Franjul, Genao, Polanco and Valerio face up to 7.5 years in prison on the charge of access device fraud conspiracy, as well as forfeiture and fines of up to $250,000.

November 18, 2013 - 3:30pm


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