A LARGE group of hackers in Japan stole a total of US$12.7 million (1.4 billion yen) from over 1,000 automated teller machines in the span of two hours earlier this month, according to local reports.
Quoting sources, The Mainichi reported the sum was stolen from ATMs placed in convenience stores throughout the country.
Authorities believe the money was withdrawn using fake credit cards with duplicated information that was leaked from a bank in South Africa.
Police estimate at least 100 people were involved in coordinating the high-tech robbery.
According to the report, the ATM thefts took place on May 15 at convenience stores scattered across 16 prefectures in the country.
The police are now scrambling to identify the suspects with help from its South African counterparts via Interpol. They are also looking into how the credit card information was acquired.
According to Computerworld, each person on average withdrew the maximum of 100,000 yen (US$913) from the 14,000 transactions involving 1,600 credit cards. The group mainly targeted ATM cash machines in 7-11 convenience stores as they accept foreign credit cards.
In a statement, South African Standard Bank claimed it was “victim of a sophisticated, coordinated fraud incident”.
“This involved the withdrawal of cash using a small number of fictitious cards at various ATMs in Japan,” it said.
However, the bank assured its customers that they did not suffer any financial losses.