In just three hours, over 100 criminals managed to steal ¥1.4 Billion (approx. US$12.7 Million) from around 1,400 ATMs placed in small convenience stores across Japan.
The heist took place on May 15, between 5:00 am and 8:00 am, and looked like a coordinated attack by an international crime network.
The crooks operated around 1,400 convenience store ATMs from where the cash was withdrawn simultaneously in 16 prefectures around Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, Kanagawa, Aichi, Nagasaki, Hyogo, Chiba and Nigata, The Mainichi reports.
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Many ATM incidents involve a long-established technique called 'ATM Skimming' in which criminals install devices to obtain card details via its magnetic stripe, or use ATM malware or from data breaches, and then work with so-called carders and money mules to pilfer cash at ATMs or make online purchases.
In this particular case as well, the heist was carried out using cloned credit cards that contained bank account details obtained from Standard Bank in South Africa.
The criminal gang of around 100 people believed to have withdrawn 100,000 yen (nearly US$900) – the maximum amount allowed by cash machines – from each of the 14,000 ATMs.
No one has yet been arrested in connection with the heist. However, Japanese police are currently trying to identify the suspects by examining CCTV footage and are working with South African authorities to investigate how the information on credit cards was leaked.
Also Watch: How Hacker Installs a Credit Card Skimmer in 3 Seconds.
This incident shows a sophisticated move by a group of criminals who stole the critical card data, but rather than using it immediately, it kept the data safe and used effectively when least suspected.
So, be cautious when you use any ATM and always look carefully at the teller machine before using it. If you found the machine tampered or its card slot looks damaged or scratched, DO NOT use the ATM.