ATM hacking: Extradited suspect to face US court

FRANKFURT - The United States will get a rare chance to prosecute one of the world's most wanted cyber criminal suspects with the extradition of a Turkish man accused of orchestrating a global operation to hack automated teller machines (ATMs).

Ercan Findikoglu, 33, boarded a flight to New York on Tuesday after losing his fight against extradition from a German prison, according to a law enforcement official.

He was arrested by the German authorities during a trip to Frankfurt in December 2013.

Findikoglu allegedly organised a criminal operation that stole US$40 million (S$53.6 million) in cash from ATMs within 10 hours in February 2013 in New York City and 23 other countries, according to a ruling in his extradition case from the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany.

The so-called unlimited cash-out operations used hacked debit cards with their withdrawal limits removed to make ATMs spew money.

Findikoglu was indicted on 18 criminal charges by the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, according to the German court.

The indictment and a criminal complaint against him are sealed.

Findikoglu's lawyer in Frankfurt declined to comment.

His extradition comes as President Barack Obama's administration is under mounting pressure from lawmakers, industry executives and consumer advocates to do more to combat increasingly sophisticated and damaging criminal hacking attacks against US companies and citizens.

Another hacker, Alex Yucel, was sentenced on Tuesday to four years and nine months in a US prison after pleading guilty to computer crimes.

He sold malware to thousands of users in more than 100 countries that could be used to steal identities and secretly control computers.

"Even though it seems like the successes are rare, they are significant and they're sending a message," said Ms Jenny Durkan, former US Attorney for the Western District of Washington. "US law enforcement is not throwing in the towel."

Findikoglu is the latest example in US efforts to extradite hackers.

The US has also extradited Roman Seleznev, a Russian suspected of being one of the world's most prolific traffickers in stolen credit cards, and Vladimir Drinkman, a Russian charged with stealing 160 million credit card numbers.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2015, with the headline 'ATM hacking: Extradited suspect to face US court'. Print Edition | Subscribe