A few days ago, Robert Dubuc and Oleg Pidtergerya pleaded guilty to a number of criminal counts in charges brought against them in federal court. The conspiracy of which they were a part is very telling of the danger that threatens the international banking system. The scheme began before the two defendants ever got involved. Ukrainian hackers gained illegal access to the bank accounts of more than a dozen large financial institutions and companies, including Automatic Data Processing, Inc (ADP), Citibank, E-Trade, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Pay Pal, TD Ameritrade and TIAA-CREF. Once the hackers gained access to the accounts, they transferred funds stolen electronically from these accounts to bank accounts and pre-paid debit cards that they controlled. At this point they then progressed to the cashing out phase of the scam by which people known as “cashers” would withdraw the funds from the new accounts through ATM withdrawals and bank withdrawals after which the funds were sent to the two Ukranian hackers behind the scam. Dubuc and Pidtergerya were cashers.
Banks and other financial institutions have not been particularly forthright when it comes to disclosing the successful hacking of their accounts. Nor has their security been as good as it has to be. Where this leaves us as customers is that we need to be particularly vigilant in monitoring our accounts at all times for signs of fraudulent purchases. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy such as when we unwittingly download keystroke logging malware through clicking on tainted links or downloading dangerous malware that steals the information from our computers, smartphones, tablets and other portable electronic devices and then uses this information to make us victims of identity theft and access our accounts. It is important to monitor all of your financial accounts more often than monthly. It is also important to maintain the most up to date security software on all of our electronic devices and finally, it is up to us to use caution whenever we are online and not to click on links unless we are absolutely sure they are legitimate.