8 charged in $45 million New York City ATM fraud scheme

Authorities hold news conference announcing indictments in ATM cyber theft.

May 9, 2013 3:11:08 PM PDT
Eight members of a New York cell are charged in a massive 21st century bank heist that reached across the Internet and stretched around the globe, inflicting $45 million in losses on the financial system in a matter of hours.

In the place of guns and masks, the cybercrime organization used laptops and the Internet, prosecutors said.

"Moving as swiftly as data over the Internet, the organization worked its way from the computer systems of international corporations to the streets of New York City, with the defendants fanning out across Manhattan to steal millions of dollars from hundreds of ATMs in a matter of hours," United States Attorney Loretta Lynch.

The 8 defendants allegedly formed the New York-based cell of an international cybercrime organization that used sophisticated intrusion techniques to hack into the systems of global financial institutions, steal prepaid debit card data and eliminate withdrawal limits. Federal law enforcement dubbed its investigation "Operation Unlimited" because of this twist in the case.

The stolen card data was a disseminated worldwide and used in making fraudulent ATM withdrawals on a massive scale across the globe during two incidents in December 2012 and February of this year.

Prosecutors say ATMs on Broadway from West 116th Street to West 23rd Street were accessed in the operation.

The eight defendants and their co-conspirators withdrew approximately $2.8 million in a matter of hours, authorities said.

The defendants face charges of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering.

Seven of the eight defendants have been arrested: Jael Mejia Collado, Joan Luis Minier Lara, Evan Jose Peña, Jose Familia Reyes, Elvis Rafael Rodriguez, Emir Yasser Yeje, and Chung Yu-Holguin, all residents of Yonkers, New York.

The indictment also charges an eighth defendant, Alberto Yusi Lajud-Peña, also known as "Prime" and "Albertico," who is reported to have been murdered on April 27, 2013, in the Dominican Republic.