$175,000 stolen from machines at three Malaysian bank branches

$175,000 stolen from machines at three Malaysian bank branches

KUALA LUMPUR - ATMs at three more bank branches have been hacked and almost RM450,000 (S$175,000) stolen as police launched a nationwide hunt for the Latin American suspects responsible for the thefts.

The spate of ATM hacks continued with the United Overseas Bank (UOB) branch in Jalan Imbi yesterday reporting a RM92,900 theft by one of the hackers.

Kuala Lumpur police said CCTV footage showed the suspect going in and out of the bank four times, changing his outfit each time.

"At the ATM, the man took out a handphone and was able to withdraw money without touching any buttons on the machine. We received a report after the bank discovered the hacking while doing an audit on Monday," a source said.

In Malacca, bank managers of the Affin Bank and Al Rajhi Bank branches in Taman Melaka Raya lodged police reports saying that their ATMs were missing a total of RM355,570 in cash.

Malacca police chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Chuah Ghee Lye said both managers lodged reports after discovering from CCTV footage that groups of two to three suspects used the same modus operandi and withdrew money from their ATMs.

The Al Rajhi Bank branch reportedly lost RM232,770, which was withdrawn by two suspects, while the Affin Bank branch lost RM122,800 to three suspects.

"It was the same thing that happened in other states," SAC Chuah said.

So far, there have been 18 reported cases of ATMs being hacked into, with about RM3.1mil in cash drained out of the machines.

Federal police have launched Ops Albatross, a nationwide hunt to track down the suspects and released pictures of five Latin American men caught on CCTV as they were hacking into and withdrawing money out of the ATMs.

Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Depart­ment (CCID) Director Comm Datuk Seri Mortadza Nazarene revealed that the suspects opened the top panel of the ATM and inserted a disc into the machine's CD-ROM drive to infect it with a virus.

After taking out the CD, they closed the panel and syndicate members would then withdraw all the money out of the ATM by keying in codes, which they received via telephone from an accomplice.

The suspects would also jam the ATM slots with objects like SIM cards, paper or cigarette butts to stop other bank customers from withdrawing cash.

Bukit Aman CCID deputy director Comm Datuk Hamzah Taib said that all the ATMs targeted could be opened by a master key.

"Every kiosk should have a different key but that's not the case here," Comm Hamzah said, refuting possibilities that the suspects had inside help from the banks targeted.

"From the looks of it, they really didn't need help to do what they did," he said.

The public with information can assist police in investigations by contacting SAC Kamaruddin at 019-600-0135 or 03-261-6839.

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