Taiwan Says Foreign Suspects Arrested Over $2 Million ATM Cyber Robbery

July 17, 2016, 3:36 PM UTC
A woman sits beside her stall at the Shilin night market in Taiwan
A woman sits beside her stall at the Shilin night market in Taipei July 15, 2008. REUTERS/Nicky Loh/File Photo GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD PACKAGE - SEARCH 'BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD MAY 2' FOR ALL IMAGES - RTX2CDH3
Nicky Loh — Reuters

Police in Taiwan said on Sunday they had arrested three out of 16 foreign suspects they believe hacked into the cash machines of a major local bank, withdrawing more than $2 million.

They are accused of targeting First Bank’s ATMs last week, using malware to withdraw more than T$80 million ($2.5 million) from dozens of machines.

A policeman recognized one of the suspects, a Latvian, while he was eating in a restaurant in the northeastern city of Yilan.

Police arrested him later, an official of the Taipei City Police Department told a news briefing.

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Two other suspects, who are from Romania, were arrested in Taipei, police said, adding they had found more than T$50 million of the stolen money in a hotel room.

“This is the first time that an international team of ATM thieves has committed a crime in Taiwan,” Lee Wen-chang, chief commander of the Criminal Investigation Division, told reporters.

Authorities are still investigating exactly how the crime was carried out, he said.

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The remaining 13 suspects, including two from Russia, have left Taiwan, police said, adding they had alerted authorities overseas.

The suspects may have used a cellphone to target 41 First Bank ATMs, investigators said on Wednesday.

In May, a gang stole $13 million from Japanese ATMs in a three-hour spree.

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Since discovering the Taiwan theft last Monday, Taiwan’s major state-run banks have frozen withdrawals from nearly 1,000 ATMs of the kind targeted in the heist, which are supplied by Germany’s Wincor Nixdorf.

About 4% of Taiwan’s national ATM network of 27,200 machines are affected.

Investigators have identified three different malware programs that were used to trigger withdrawals.

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