Monday, August 26, 2019

Cops recover Rs 14 cr stolen in Cosmos Bank heist


PUNE: The Pune cybercrime police have recovered nearly Rs14 crore, which was transferred to a Hong Kong bank as a part of the Rs 94-crore Cosmos Bank online heist last August. The account was frozen by the bank. The police team, headed by senior inspector Jayram Paygude, repeatedly followed up the matter with the bank officials in Hong Kong.

Police said the fraudsters had siphoned off Rs13.92 crore to an account with the Hong Kong-based bank. “The money will soon be transferred to Cosmos Bank after the necessary paperwork is completed,” Paygude said. Pune-based Cosmos Bank, which ranks among the city’s oldest urban cooperative banks, was targeted by the hackers between August 11 and 13 last year.

The hackers infiltrated the bank’s online systems and siphoned off Rs 94.42 crore in two days. The suspects had used a malware to hack into the bank’s server and created a parallel virtual server containing the details of the bank. The virtual server then approved fraudulent transactions. According to an investigation following the online heist, 12,000 unauthorized transactions, worth Rs 78 crore, took place using the VISA facility of the bank. The money was mainly transferred to bank accounts located outside India. Also, 2,849 illegal transactions, worth Rs 2.5 crore, took place within India via the Rupay facility of the bank.

The money was withdrawn by the fraudsters’ agents based in 21 countries. This was accomplished using debit cards programmed with details of Cosmos Bank accounts. In all, 14,849 suspicious transactions took place, involving a total sum of Rs80.50 crore. Another investigation revealed that the suspects had executed three suspicious transactions using the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) facility.

Through these three transactions, Rs13.92 crores was transferred from Cosmos to the bank account of a trading company having its office in Hong Kong. Police later ascertained that the trading company had downed its shutters a long time ago, and that the fraudsters were misused by the suspects. In past year, the cybercrime police have arrested 15 people, mainly from Mumbai, Thane and Bhiwandi. Police have also seized a skimming machine, which was used to make duplicate debit cards with details of Cosmos Bank customers.


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