Seven months ago Citibank officials noticed suspicious ATM transactions coming through the five cash machines in the vestibule of a Citibank's 65th Street Branch in New York's Upper East Side. When the bank official responsible for the spot got a call alerting him to a theft in progress, he crossed the street to peer through the vestibule glass, and watched as a man in a baseball cap, jeans and a sports coat put a thick envelope into a briefcase and moved from one ATM to the next. The thief was seized and now he pleads guilty to a count of ATM fraud.
28 year old Aleksandr Aleksiev pleaded guilty to a single count of access device fraud in federal court in Manhattan last week Tuesday. The total number of criminals who entered the guilty pleas accounts for 5 persons. The fraudsters were found involved in an intrusion into an ATM processing server that led to at least $2 million in fraudulent withdrawals this year. The fraudulent scheme started operating in late 2007 when the data kept at a server that processes transactions from Citibank-branded ATMs at 7-Eleven convenience stores were compromised by a hacker.
The mastermind of the scheme who turned out to be Russian stole customer account numbers and PINs and distributed the misappropriated data to his confederates. 70% of $2 million in fraudulent withdrawals were sent back to Russia as reported by the court records. The scheme came to light in January when two fake cahiers Nue Quni and Luma Bitti with blank cards and a mag-stripe writer in their car were arrested at a traffic stop. In the course of their cooperation with the FBI two more suspects, Andrey Baranets and Aleksandr Desevoh, were arrested in New York.
After this in late February and early March the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service arrested two Ukrainian immigrants and two alleged co-conspirators for allegedly using more of the stolen PINs. Yuriy Rakushchynets, Angelina Kitaeva and Ivan Biltse have since pleaded guilty fraud and conspiracy charges. The fourth man, Ilya Boruch, was charged with money laundering for allegedly helping transfer some of the proceeds of the heist to Russia through WebMoney online payment system much like PayPal.