Recent ebanking heists — such as a $121,000 online robbery at a New York fuel supplier last month — suggest that cyber thieves increasingly are cashing out by sending victim funds to prepaid debit card accounts. The shift appears to be an effort to route around a major bottleneck for these crimes: Their dependency on unreliable money mules.
Mules traditionally have played a key role in helping thieves cash out hacked accounts and launder money. They are recruited through email-based work-at-home job scams, and are told they will be helping companies process payments. In a typical scheme, the mule provides her banking details to the recruiter, who eventually sends a fraudulent transfer and tells the mule to withdraw the funds in cash, keep a small percentage, and wire the remainder to co-conspirators abroad.
I’ve written a great deal about “money mules,” people looking for part-time employment who unwittingly or willingly help organized cyber thieves launder stolen funds. The most common question I get about money mules is: “Do any of them ever get… Read More »
Computer crooks stole at least $139,000 from the town coffers of Pittsford, New York this week. The theft is the latest reminder of the widening gap between the sophistication of organized cyber thieves and the increasingly ineffective security measures employed by many financial institutions across the United States.
The attack began on or around June 1, 2011, when someone logged into the online commercial banking account of the Town of Pittsford, a municipality of 25,000 not far from Rochester, N.Y. The thieves initiated a small batch of automated clearing house (ACH) transfers to several money mules, willing or unwitting individuals in the U.S.A. who had been recruited by the attackers prior to the theft. The mules pulled the money out of their bank accounts in cash and wired it to individuals in Saint Petersburg, Russia and Kiev, Ukraine via transfer services Western Union and Moneygram.
Authorities in the United States and Moldova apprehended at least eight individuals alleged to have helped launder cash for an international cyber crime gang that stole more than $70 million from small to mid-sized organizations in recent months. In Wisconsin,… Read More »
Troy Owen never thought he’d see the day when the cyber thieves who robbed his company of $800,000 would ever be charged with any crime. Owens said that investigators told him that the perpetrators were mostly overseas in places like Ukraine and Moldova, and that it might be tough to catch those responsible.
But on Thursday afternoon, authorities in New York announced they had charged more than 60 individuals — and arrested 20 — in connection with international cyber heists perpetrated against dozens of companies in the United States, including Owen’s.
Authorities in the United Kingdom on Wednesday charged 11 individuals with running an international cyber crime syndicate that laundered millions of dollars stolen from consumers and businesses with the help of the help of the ultra-sophisticated ZeuS banking Trojan.
A recent chat with an individual who was almost tricked into helping organized criminals launder thousands of dollars stolen through e-banking fraud introduced me to one of the most clever and convincing money mule recruitment Web sites I’ve ever encountered.… Read More »
The FBI’s top anti-cyber crime official today said the agency is planning a law enforcement action against so-called “money mules,” individuals willingly or unwittingly roped into helping organized computer crooks launder money stolen through online banking fraud. Patrick Carney, acting… Read More »
Much digital ink has been spilled in this blog detailing the activities of so-called “money mules,” willing or unwitting individuals here in the United States who are lured into laundering money for international organized cyber crime gangs. The subject almost always generates fierce debate among readers about whether these mules should be prosecuted, and the debate usually hinges on whether the mules knew that they were contributing to a crime.
I have written a great deal about how organized cyber gangs in Eastern Europe drained tens of millions of dollars from the bank accounts of small- to mid-sized businesses last year. But new evidence indicates one of the gangs chiefly responsible for these attacks actually managed to hack directly into a U.S. bank last year and siphon off tens of thousands of dollars.