A Turkish citizen known by the online nicknames “Segate,” “Predator,” and “Oreon,” pleaded guilty this week to computer crimes for his role in helping steal over $55 million over a two-year period.
Ercan Findikoglu pleaded guilty to computer intrusion conspiracy, access device fraud conspiracy, and effecting transactions with unauthorized access devices for organizing and carrying out three cyber attacks between 2011 and 2013. The attacks were short and effective as the group stole over $55 million in a matter of hours on the global financial system.
United States District Court Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto accepted the guilty plea. Findikoglu faces 57.5 years in prison.
Findikoglu’s organization used sophisticated intrusion techniques to hack into the systems of credit and debit card processing companies, stole data for prepaid debit cards, and eliminated withdrawal limits for those debit cards, officials said.
During these attacks, Findikoglu and others manipulated network administrator privileges at the victim card processing companies and stole the personal identification numbers (PINs) associated with the compromised debit cards.
They then disseminated the stolen card data worldwide to cashing crews and directed the teams use the information to make fraudulent ATM withdrawals on a massive scale around the word.
In one operation on February 27 and 28, 2011, Findikoglu’s cashing crews withdrew approximately $10 million through 15,000 fraudulent ATM withdrawals in at least 18 countries. In a second operation on December 22, 2012, Findikoglu’s cashing crews withdrew $5 million through more than 4,500 ATM in 20 countries.
In a third operation on February 19 and 20, 2013, Findikoglu’s cashing crews in 24 countries executed 36,000 transactions and withdrew $40 million from ATMs. During this third operation, in New York City alone, the crews withdrew $2.4 million in nearly 3,000 ATM withdrawals over the course of less than 11 hours.
Findikoglu ended up paid a significant portion of the illegal proceeds from these unlimited operations.
Police arrested Findikoglu in Frankfurt, Germany, in December 2013, and officials extradited him to the U.S. in June 2015.