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Turkish hacker pleads guilty to $55m maniac global ATM heist

One spree alone cost victims $40m

The hacker behind an attack on the US banking sector that caused $55m in damages has pleaded guilty – and faces more than 57 years in prison.

Turkish citizen Ercan Findikoglu, 34, admitted his role in an international syndicate including charges of computer intrusion conspiracy, bank fraud, and effecting transactions using unauthorised devices.

Findikoglu ducked police until he was arrested December 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany and battled extradition until last year, pleading not guilty in June.

He would have faced up to 247½ years in prison if found guilty during the extradition process.

Findikoglu used the aliases "Segate", "Oreon" and "Predator" to target JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, and the American Red Cross as part of a ring which, starting in 2010, siphoned tens of millions of dollars from ATMs in two dozen countries.

The group's biggest heist happened in February 2013 where the group stole US$40 million (£28.4 million, A$54.8 million) through an eye-watering 36,000 ATM transactions across 24 countries.

The withdrawals happened in a matter of hours.

The gang stole customer data and used hacked credentials to change account-holders' daily withdrawal limits, then cashed out at ATMs.

In one attack in late February 2011 the hackers withdrew some $10m (£7.1m, A$13.7m) in an epic 15,000-strong withdrawal spree across 18 countries.

In December 2012 the group pulled some U$5m (£7.1m, A$6.8m) through 4500 ATM transactions in 20 countries.

"[The gang] participated in a massive 21st century bank heist that reached across the internet and stretched around the globe," United States Attorney Lynch said at the time of his arrest.

"In the place of guns and masks, this cybercrime organisation used laptops and the internet," he added. "Moving as swiftly as data over the internet, the organisation 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." ®

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