Suspected Cybercrime Mastermind Extradited

     BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – A Turk suspected of coordinating one of the biggest bank cyberheists ever has been extradited to the United States and arraigned for allegedly masterminding several crews of ATM thieves.
     Ercan Findikoglu, a 33-year-old whom prosecutors say used the online aliases “Segate” and “Predator,” had fought against extradition for a year and a half.
     The government pegs him as the mastermind behind three global cyberattacks that stole roughly $55 million in less than a few hours.
     Findikoglu’s gang allegedly preyed on ATMs in multiple countries, sometimes withdrawing tens of millions in less than a day, from 2010 to 2013.
     Authorities say the scam involved hacking into the computer networks of at least three payment processors for credit- and debit-card transactions, then using that information to boost the account balances on prepaid Visa and MasterCard debit cards to withdraw huge sums of cash. The scams are known as “unlimited operations” in the cyber-underworld.
     No bail has been set for Findikoglu, who pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges including conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and bank fraud.
     Findikoglu was arrested in 2013 in Germany after years of evading U.S. authorities. Reports say he was arrested at the Frankfort, Germany, airport while traveling to buy his Russian wife a new car.
     Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court had blocked extradition, calling into question the length of the sentence Findikoglu could face, German newspaper Der Spiegel reported.
     The scam, which began in 2010, was a well-orchestrated and sprawling one, involving co-conspirators in dozens of countries. Findikoglu allegedly had global “cashing crews” who would make tends of thousands of bogus ATM withdrawals. They then received the cash via wire transfer, e-currency or even personal delivery of cash, federal investigators say.
     Findikoglu allegedly had his cohorts destroy evidence of their money-smuggling when ATM cameras caught a member of the New York cashing crew withdrawing money, leading to that individual’s arrest.
     Several of Findikoglu’s alleged crew members in New York City have already been arrested, and the alleged head of that crew, Alberto Yusi Lajud-Pena, was murdered in the Dominican Republic in 2013.
     The scam is considered the biggest and quickest heists in New York City history since the 1978 Lufthansa robbery that was depicted in the movie “Goodfellas.” During the operation in New York City, cashing crews withdrew about $2.4 million in almost 3,000 ATMs in less than 11 hours.
     “The significance of this case cannot be understated,” said Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Robert Sica in a statement yesterday, adding that Findikoglu “plagued the financial services sector” during the scam’s life.

%d bloggers like this: