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Two foreigners arrested for ‘black box attack’

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Computer Crime Division investigations reveal
Stealing over Rs.10 Mn from ATM machines
Suspects are internationally wanted criminals
Responsible for crimes in over 10 countries including some South Asian nations
Mastermind arrested at BIA is Bulgarian citizen working as a taxi driver in Canada

Investigations conducted by the Computer Crime Division of the Police say that the Bulgarian and Canadian nationals arrested for hacking ATM machines and stealing more than Rs. 10 million are internationally wanted criminals who have committed such crimes in more than 10 countries including some South Asian countries.

The Computer Crime Investigation Division was entrusted with the theft of around Rs. 10 Million from three ATMs located in Hikkaduwa, Galle and Baddegama in the early hours of December 30, 2022.

The mastermind in the racket the police say is a former citizen of Bulgaria who is currently living in Canada after getting citizenship. Investigations have revealed that this foreigner, who is about 35 years old, is an expert in computer usage. This person has told the Police that he is a taxi driver in Canada.

According to the information provided by the Computer Crime Division, when this person went to the Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake yesterday morning to flee to Malaysia, he was detained at the airport by authorities and handed over to the Computer Crime Division.

By that time, Computer Crime Branch officials had arrested his assistant, a Bulgarian national, at a location in Peterson Road, Wellawatta. It was through him that the Computer Crime Investigation Division received the information regarding the Canadian who was about to flee the country.

Police say these two foreigners have been engaged in such fraudulent activities in more than 10 countries, but the security departments of none of those countries have been able to arrest them. This is because they commit these crimes by following strict security measures for their own safety.

Therefore, the Computer Crime Investigation Division is planning to provide the information of these two criminals to the International Police and take steps to inform the countries where they have roamed.

It is said that after their arrest the two foreigners had told the officers who arrested them that they can give five million rupees if they are released.

When the officers objected to the offer, they had suggested to the investigating officer to join them in hacking the ATM machines, promising to give a part of the money robbed. Also it is said that when the two foreigners travelled to rob money from ATM’s the car they had travelled had been driven by a Policeman.

This officer is a resident of Balapitiya. Investigations have revealed that banks that were targeted were carefully chosen.

Investigations carried out by the Criminal Investigation Department have revealed that the Police officer and the other two arrested for supporting these two foreigners met them at a nightclub and a bodybuilding center.

Investigations by the Computer Crime Investigation Division officials have revealed that the two foreigners had rented an apartment from the Havelock City apartment complex for a monthly rent of 250,000 rupees and have been staying there until now.

The two suspects had first tried to hack the ATMs of two banks in Colombo, but both attempts had failed.

In addition to stealing money by hacking ATM machines, it has also been found that they have been engaged in frauds such as stealing data from credit cards and preparing business fake cards and using them to purchase goods.

On the 30th morning, they had stolen money from an ATM of a State Bank located in Hikkaduwa and from an ATM of a state bank in Galle Karapitiya and also from an ATM of a state bank located in Baddegama.

Senior Superintendent of Police Lucky Randeniya, Director of the Computer Crime Division said 79 security camera footage of the bank and its surroundings and telephone usage were perused and the car in which these criminals came had been identified. He also said that computer hackers call this type of hacking “black box attack”.

There are mainly two types of tailor machines.

“There are two types of ATM machines. One is where money is deposited from the front and the other is where money is deposited from the back. Here, the target of these people has been machines where money deposit is done from the front. The keyboard of those computer machines can be removed from the cover of the machine. They use a small device to remove the locks from the cover. They have brought all necessary equipment. After that, they remove the cables that are connected to the bank’s computer system and the teller machine. They will not take more than two or three minutes. Then these people connect a laptop they brought with them to the ATM.

A computer software that connects with the machine is downloaded on that laptop. An Internet facility is required to run it. For that they carry a router. That router is in the car they came in. The car is stopped close to the ATM. After the laptop is connected to the teller machine’s data system, they withdraw the money from the teller machine. This is similar to withdrawing money from a card. They use the computer to give commands to the ATM and withdraw all the Rs.5000 notes” an investigating officer said, describing the modus operandi of the criminals.

As this theft takes place outside the bank’s computer system, the officer also said that although money was stolen from the machine, the bank’s computer system records that there is money in the ATM machine.

“In general, the ATM Only 60 notes can be taken out from a machine at a time. But due to the size and thickness of the notes in our country, it is possible to take out about 50 to 55 notes at a time. It takes at least 40 seconds to come out of the scale machine. The machines in our country cannot take more than this amount of notes at one time. They went to take a bigger amount from the machine in Galle Karapitiya and the machine got stuck.

Therefore, it was not possible to get a large amount. After that, they went to Baddegama and took 5.7 million and it took them 40 minutes at least to withdraw this money in 1140 attempts. This had been done in early hours in the morning at a time when people were not present” he added.

He also said that stickers had been pasted on cameras. Investigations have also revealed that they have given some of the stolen money to their helpers in Sri Lanka and converted most of it into cryptocurrency.

Investigations have revealed that the police officer inside the car had been giving them cover and had alerted them about any people or vehicle movement in the vicinity.

The officer said the police had found many equipment the suspects had used for the theft from their apartment.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023 – 01:00

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