Criminals have made away with ¥1.4bn (£8.9m, $13m) from over 1,400 ATMs in Japan in under three hours. The teller machines from where the cash was withdrawn simultaneously were located in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Aichi, Osaka, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Hyogo,Chiba, Nigata and more, according to the Japanese police who suspect more than 100 people to be involved in the heist.
All the transactions took place on 15 May, between 5:00 am and 8:00 am, many of which were simultaneous and involved the removal of ¥100,000, the maximum withdrawal limit set for ATMs. There were more than 14,000 transactions pertaining to the case in what looks like a perfectly coordinated attack by an international network.
The most interesting bit is that the cash was withdrawn using forged credit cards that belonged not to any Japanese bank but to a bank from another country - South Africa. Police say the geographical distance is important as the criminals wanted to delay authorities' attempts to spot the scam.
The police in Japan will now try to identify the suspects by going through the videos recorded by security cameras in the ATMs and around them. They will also be working with South African authorities via Interpol to determine as to how the credit card data was leaked.
The latest case shows a classic case of data theft where hackers steal crucial information from servers but do not use it immediately. Instead they wait and keep the data in storage banks to use them effectively when least suspected.
Of late, financial hacks have increased with the Qatar National Bank data leak, the Bangladesh Central Bank and even the US Fed being hacked. Famed hackitivist group Anonymous has also been targeting various banks under OpIcarus by stealing or leaking highly confidential data from their servers.