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Cyber bank robbers stole $45 million: US

Cyber thieves around the world stole $45 million by hacking into debit card companies
Cyber thieves around the world stole $45 million by hacking into debit card companies, lifting withdrawal limits, and helping themselves from cash machines, US authorities said Thursday.

Cyber thieves around the world stole $45 million by hacking into debit card companies, lifting withdrawal limits, and helping themselves from cash machines, US authorities said Thursday.

The massive heist unfolded "in a matter of hours," said the US prosecutor's office for Brooklyn, New York.

Prosecutors unveiled charges against eight people accused of forming the New York cell of the plot, which stretched across 26 countries. In their case, they allegedly lifted $2.8 million in cash and now face charges of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and money laundering.

Seven of the eight have been arrested, the US attorney's office said. The eighth, Alberto Yusi Lajud-Pena, nicknamed "Prime" and "Albertico," is "reported to have been murdered on April 27," the office said.

"The defendants and their co-conspirators participated in a massive 21st century bank heist that reached across the Internet and stretched around the globe," US Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

"In the place of guns and masks, this cybercrime organization used laptops and the Internet."

According to officials, the alleged gang first hacked the computer systems of international corporations, then went throughout Manhattan stealing millions of dollars from hundreds of automatic cash machines "in a matter of hours."

Similar operations took place around the world in choreographed assaults carried out on December 22 last year and February 19-20 this year.

The first phase of the attack targeted prepaid debit card accounts, hacking in to eliminate withdrawal limits, then freeing accomplices to raid the ATM machines.

The prosecutor's office highlighted the "surgical precision" of the alleged plot and "the speed and coordination with which the organization executes its operations on the ground. These attacks rely upon both highly sophisticated hackers and organized criminal cells whose role is to withdraw the cash as quickly as possible."

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