ATM Theft: $9 million in 30 minutes


I think a new record has been set for how much money can be stolen in a record amount of time. One group of fraudsters got away with $9 million in a mere 30 minutes. The thieves used about 100 ATM cards which had their daily withdrawal limits removed. That allowed them to hit ATM machines in 49 cities and run off with $9 million.

Very little is being reported about this crime so far. What we know is that RBS WorldPay, the US processor for Royal Bank of Scotland Group is the victim. They were mighty slow in reporting the theft, however. They did a press release on December 23, stating that there was a breach of their computer system which allowed the fraudulent use of 100 cards. A total of 1.5 million card numbers were compromised.

The scam was dependent on a group of "cashiers," people who were willing to actually go to ATMs and make the withdrawals. The crime was coordinated, with all of the cashiers hitting ATMs just after midnight on November 8, 2008. There are no suspects yet, although the cashiers were likely photographed at the ATMs. Based on the small amount of money they were likely paid to do this dirty work, law enforcement is hoping some of them will be willing to rat out those above them in the scam.

It's interesting that a theft of this magnitude, which happened in early November, wasn't reported on until almost three months later. $9 million in 30 minutes is not an insignificant amount, and the fact that the personal information of 1.5 million consumers was compromised isn't insignifanct either. I'm even more intrigued by this fact: $9 million stolen with 100 cards equals $90,000 stolen with each card. Where do you find an ATM machine that has that much money in it?